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Honourable JOHN ADAMS, 











Introduction. - 1 


Thomas Jefferson. 9 

John Quincy Adams, and Mr. Jefferson's Embargo. 41 


The Causes, pretended and real, for removing T. Pickering 
from office The Mission to France in 1799 The Par- 
don of Fries. - - - - - 63 


Elbridge Gerry Mr. Adams's Minister to the French Re- 
public ; and a further account of the Mission instituted 
in 1799. - - - - 110 


Lieut. Col. William Stephens Smith, son-in-law of Mr. 
Adams. - - - 143 


Alexander Hamilton. - 15G 

George Washington. _---- -173 

Conclusion. - 120 


1. Extracts from Calender's pamphlet entitled " The Pros- 
pect Before Us ;" referred to in page 13. 183 

2. Letter from Mr. Jefferson to Lieut. Governor Barry, of 
Kentucky, on the Judiciary; referred to in page 16. 184 

3. Note B, referred to in page 24. Concerning Mr. Jeffer- 
son's literary works. - 185 


4. Note C, referred to in page 25. Correspondence of T. 
Pickering with Mr. Adams, on the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. - 186 

5. Note D, referred to in page 25. Mr. Jefferson's Draught 
of the Declaration of Independence And the Declara- 
tion as amended and adopted in Congress. 188 

6. Note E, Remarks on the Treaty and Conventions, re- 
lating to the cession of Louisiana to the United States. 196 

8^7- The recurrence of Mr. Adams to the same topics, in various 
parts of his Correspondence, and the arrangements of the principal 
subjects, in this Review, have occasioned some repetitions of the 
same facts and remarks. 



5. Line 10, for slandered read reproached. 
21. Strike out the marks of parenthesis, in the llth and 13th 

lines from the bottom. 

29. Line 19, from the top, insert of before Louisiana. 
39. Line 13, from the bottom, insert if before insincere, 
166. Line 3, from the top, strike out the before rank. 


A. PAMPHLET of more than two hundred pages has 
appeared, under the title of " CORRESPONDENCE between 
u the Hon. John Adams, late President of the United 
u States, and the late William Cunningham, Esq, be- 
ginning in 1803, and ending in 1812." 

A family connexion appears to have had some in- 
fluence to induce Mr. Adams to unbosom himself to Mr. 
Cunningham. In one of his letters he tells us, that 
Cunningham's grandmother was the beloved sister of 
his mother. Two objects were obtained by Mr. Ad* 
ams's disclosures : He gratified the keen appetite of 
his friend for secret history, and eased his own mind, 
by giving vent to his spleen against some public men 
whom he hated. 

Mr. Adams, roused at length by his subject, and sti* 
mulated by the constant flatteries of his friend, resolves 
to write his own history ; because, says he, "no human 
<; being but myself can do me justice ; and I shall not 
" be believed. All I can say will be imputed to vanity 
" and self love." In the progress of this Review, the 
reader will find these prophetic anticipations verified. 
He will see, from the numerous aberrations of Mr. 
Adams, that his statements are not entitled to belief; 
while every page is characterized by his vanity and 

In performing the task which Mr. Adams has im- 
posed on me, I shall be obliged to take a pretty exten- 
sive view of his character ; and present some features 
n the characters of others whom he has introduced in* 

to his letters. In these he has been pleased to give 
me a conspicuous place ; making me a standing theme 
of reproach. But although so many of his shafts have 
been levelled at me, from his full quiver he has shot 
many at others ; especially at one who, by way of emi- 
nence, may be justly styled THE FEDERALIST. Federal- 
ists generally, perhaps almost universally, were once 
the friends of Mr. Adams ; and they continued such, 
so long and so far as his public conduct permitted them 
to support him, consistently with their views of what 
the public welfare required. The mere abatement of 
their zeal wounded his pride, excited his resentment, 
and exposed them to his reproach. 

For myself, I determined on a formal vindication ; 
aware, at the same time, of the labour it would cost me, 
in looking for and examining numerous documents, writ- 
ten and printed, of many years' standing. Accusations, 
which a page would comprise, might require a volume 
to refute. But Mr. Adams's calumnies are spread over 
many pages, and will bring into view a variety of topics 
for reflection. 

The letters of Mr. Adams present a tissue of misrep- 
resentations, perverse constructions, and unfounded as- 
sertions. The latter, in any other case, I might desig- 
nate by a harsher term. While under the influence of 
his passions strongly agitated (and a little excitement, 
like a small match to a mass of gunpowder, is sufficient 
to produce an explosion) he may not be perfectly quali- 
fied to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Sus- 
picions, the offspring of a proud and jealous mind, are 
substituted for facts ; and on these chimeras he rests 
confident assertions. But heedless precipitation is it- 
self criminal ; and its consequences may be as injurious 
to the party accused, as deliberate falsehood. 

By many persons, forgetting the latter years of his 
life, and thinking only of his revolutionary services, Mr. 
Adams is hailed as " great and good ;" and is now fa- 
miliarly designated by the flattering title of " the vene- 
rable sage of Quincy." I am as ready as any man to 
acknowledge I have, not long since, before a very mi- 

merous assembly, acknowledged Mr. Adams's merit 
in contributing largely to the vindication of the rights of 
the Colonies, and in effecting the independence of the 
United States : it was an act of justice, which I feel no 
disposition to retract. But " great men are not always 
wise ;" and some, after many good deeds, commit in- 
excusable faults ; and, whether these injuriously affect 
one's country, or individual citizens, they ought to be 
exposed ; for the public welfare, in one case ; and, in 
the other, to rescue individuals from the effects of un- 
deserved reproach. 

In analyzing the " Correspondence," and some other 
letters of Mr. Adams written at the same period, it will 
be seen with what facility, and how little truth, he could 
represent facts and occurrences concerning persons who 
were the objects of his hatred. This may serve to put 
on their guard readers of all his productions, whether 
already written, or which may hereafter appear, during 
his life, or after his death. Of the latter, I doubt not 
he has made ample preparation. The present exami- 
nation will demonstrate, that when the interest of him- 
self or of any member of his family is involved, or his 
vanity and ambition have room to operate, or meet with 
checks and obstacles, little reliance can be placed on 
his statements. If ingenuity or charity can find an 
apology for him and that will be a bad one it will 
be, that his selfish and ungoverned passions blind him. 

Mr. Adams's virulent reproaches of federalists, of 
Hamilton and of me in particular, seem to have been 
written when he was tortured with the keen feelings of 
disappointed ambition (feelings which, after the lapse 
of eight years, since he failed of a re-election to the 
presidency, recurred in full force) an ambition which 
could bear no opposition, or even lukewarmness, in re- 
gard to the means of gratifying it. He has himself de- 
scribed this passion in language that would not have 
occurred to any man who had not felt it in its utmost 
violence. " The desire of the esteem of others," says 
he, " is as real a want of nature, as hunger and the 


" neglect and contempt of the world, as severe a pain 
* as the gout or the stone."* 

Of Mr. JEFFERSON I should have said nothing beyond 
what appeared in Mr. Adams's own writings ; and that, 
merely to contrast his different representations, to show 
their inconsistency, and that his course of conduct was 
directed exclusively by his views of existing interests 
of himself and family. But Mr. Jefferson's letter to 
Mr. Adams, of October 12th, 1823, published in the 
Boston Patriot in December, and thence introduced in- 
to other papers to be spread through the Union (for 
every letter from the pens of these two gentlemen is 
eagerly circulated in the public prints) appeared to me 
calculated to lead the readers into a misconception of 
their characters, and of the relations in which they 
stand towards each other. That letter, therefore, with 
its connexions, will demand some notice. 

What is history ? A mere detail of events may en- 
gage curiosity ; but it is the characters of the actors 
which especially interest the reader ; and the exhibi- 
tion of their actions, whether these be good or bad, 
which furnishes useful lessons of instruction. Mr. 
Adams and Mr. Jefferson were conspicuous actors in 
the period of our revolution, and received applause. 
Future historians will investigate their characters, and 
by their actions regulate the award of censure and of 
praise, for the information and warning of those who 
shall live after them. But, seeing they have at one 
time done deeds worthy of remembrance, why drag 
their faults and failings before the eyes of their coun- 
trymen, many of whom, without inquiry, seem now in- 
clined to forget and forgive ? Let a celebrated ancient 
give the answer : " In this, I apprehend, consists the 
" chief part of the historian's duty : It is his, to rejudge 
" the conduct of men, that generous actions may be 
" snatched from oblivion, and the authors of pernici- 
" ous counsels, and the perpetrators of evil deeds, may 
" see, beforehand, the infamy that awaits them at the 

* Discourses on Davila, No. 4 ; ascribed to Mr. Adams as the author. 

u tribunal of posterity."* The occasion calls on me to 
make some contributions for this object. Hence this 
Review will be extended, and assume, in some degree, 
the shape of historical memoirs. With respect to Mr. 
Adams, the truths I state may, without much difficulty, 
gain admittance ; for, by his own account, he has few 
friends among those denominated federalists ; and still 
fewer among his old enemies, the adherents of Mr. 

Of all the persons vilified and slandered by Mr. 
Adams, Mr. Jefferson is the only one to whom he ap- 
pears to have been solicitous to make reparation. But 
was he the only one entitled to it ? Do his eulogists 
think nothing due to the memories of Hamilton and 
Ames and other departed federalists, and to their sur- 
viving compatriots, who have been calumniated by the 

* Tacitus, Annals, iii, Murphy's translation. These ideas are compressed 
in the original : Proecipuum munus annalium reor, ne virtutes sileanlur, ut- 
que pravis dictis factisque ex posteritatc et infamia metus sit. 

f In March, 1809, a short time prior to the election of governor and sena 
tors of Massachusetts, two democrats of Northampton addressed a flattering 
letter to Mr. Adams, requesting- him to express his opinion respecting- the pre- 
sent circumstances of the nation, with regard to foreign powers and domestic 
parties. On the 20th of that month, Mr. Adams sends an answer, in which 
he gives a dialogue, which he says passed in Holland, in 1784, between him- 
self and Deodati, minister of the Elector of Saxony. Deodati overwhelms him 
with compliments ; ascribing to him the glory of having made his country- 
men and their government Republican ; that he had made his country very 
celebrated ; that he had made it independent ; that he had made an astonish- 
ing treaty with Holland, and a marvellous peace with England, and made 
her acknowledge our independence. Mr. Adams tells Deodati, that he is too 
polite ; that he had no pretensions to have performed all those great achieve- 
ments ; that he had acted a part in some of those affairs. Deodati then pre- 
dicts, that his fate would be the same with all the ancient republicans, Aris- 
tides, Phocion, Miltiades, Scipio, &c. &c. To which Mr. Adams answers, "I 
believe it." Deodati goes on : " You will experience ingratitude, injustice :'* 
" You will be ill-treated, hated, despised, persecuted." Mr. Adams an- 
swers, " I have no doubt of all that : it is in the ordinary nature and course 
of things." Mr. Adams then proceeds to say, that a curious coalition of French 
and English emissaries, with Federal and Republican Libellers, had so com- 
pletely fulfilled the prophecy of Deodati, and his own forebodings so totally 
destroyed his reputation by their calumnies that he had then neither power 
nor influence to do any thing for his country. The last paragraph of his letter 
is particularly characteristic, and is in these words : 

" I always consider the whole nation as my children ; but they have almost 
" all proved undutiful to me. You two gentlemen are almost the only ones, 
" out of my own house, who have for a long- time, and I thank you for it, ex- 
45 pressed a filial affection for TOTTN ADAM** "" 

Adams family ? Are their names to be blotted from 
history, or remembered only to be associated with in* 
famy ? The " Correspondence" demands a full exami- 
nation. As far as present circumstances require, I will 
examine it ; and make an essay to do justice to the 
parties whose names Mr. Adams has introduced, and 
made the subjects of his reproaches or of his praise. Of 
the latter, the number is small indeed ; principally him- 
self his son J. Q. Adams his son-in-law Col. William 
S. Smith deceased, and Elbridge Gerry, also deceased. 

A just defence of myself and others, the subjects of 
Mr. Adams's bitter calumnies, compels me to expose 
his numerous aberrations, and to state some necessary 
truths. Truth is the soul of history. To ascertain 
some facts, my testimony may be useful. The value of 
that testimony will depend on the estimate formed of 
my character by my contemporaries. On that footing 
I am willing it should rest. 

By introducing a few sentences in Latin, I do not 
desire to impose on the reader an idea of literature, 
to which I make no pretensions ; but when a passage 
suited to my subject occasionally falls in my way, I 
take the liberty to use it. All I claim to possess is, 
some portion of common sense, and some force in ar- 
gument ; and knowledge enough of my mother tongue, 
to exhibit facts, reasonings and reflections, in a plain 
and perspicuous style, so that my meaning can be easily 
understood. To scurrilities I have been subjected 
through a large portion of my life : these I have despi- 
sed. But when assailed in any point of morals, I have 
offered a vindication, or have caused the libellers to be 
prosecuted. This was a duty which I owed not to my- 
self only, but to the great number of respectable men 
who have honoured me with their friendship. Some of 
these have been pleased to say, that I owed it to my 
country, in whose service so large a portion of my life 
has been employed. The first suit was against one 
Dr. Reynolds, of Philadelphia. The case was clear, to 
the satisfaction of the Supreme Court ; and so the cause 
was committed to the jury. Eleven of these were 

agreed ; but one, a democrat, persevered in withhold-- 
ing his assent ; and the jury was dismissed. On the 
second trial, there were two democrats on the jury 
and a verdict not obtained. Reynolds's counsel then 
observed to mine, that his client was " a poor devil," 
without property ; and that if I should persevere, and 
finally obtain a verdict for damages, it would not ope- 
rate as a punishment on the libeller ; but if I would 
drop the suit, he would make him muster money enough 
to pay the costs. The suit was dropped. One Baptiste 
Irvine, editor of a paper in Baltimore, published a libel 
against me. I brought an action against him : he pub- 
lished a recantation, and I forgave him. Libelled once 
in a newspaper in my native town, the printer was in- 
dicted, convicted, fined and imprisoned. I was then 
absent, attending a session in Congress. Libelled once 
more in my native county, the libeller was prosecuted. 
He made his confession, which was entered on the re- 
cords of the court ; and I forgave him. The last prose- 
cution was of a printer in New-Hampshire. He also 
humbled himself published his recantation and was 

Doubtless there were many other libellous publica- 
tions, which never came to my knowledge. 

Once I was hung in effigy in the Northern Liberties 
of Philadelphia, on a gallows fifty feet high ; and a print- 
ed notice of the time was sent to me, then in Congress 
at Washington. This was during the existence of Pre- 
sident Jefferson's glorious, indefinite embargo ; of which 
I had taken the liberty to say, that I did not like it. On 
receiving the notice, the first thought that occurred to 
me was, that the effigy of one of the greatest and best 
men the United States ever knew, John Jay, had been 
exhibited, a public spectacle, in the same manner, and 
I believe in the same place ; and, so associated, I felt 
myself honoured by the elevation. 

I close these introductory observations with one re- 
mark on the principal subject of this Review 


No man, perhaps, has ever suffered more from dis- 
appointed ambition and mortified vanity, than Mr. Ad- 
ams ; for in no man, I believe, were those passions ever 
more highly sublimated. At the first organization of 
the general government, he complained (so it has been, 
arid I doubt not truly, stated) because the votes of the 
electors were not unanimous for him as well as for 
Washington.* At that time, (some readers may need 
to be informed) before the Constitution was altered, in 
the first term of Mr. Jefferson's presidency (specially, 
perhaps, for his accommodation, prior to another elec- 
tion) the candidates for the offices of President and 
Vice-President were not respectively designated in the 
electoral votes ; but he who had the greatest number, 
if a majority of the whole, was to be the President; 
and he who had the next greatest number was to be 
the Vice-President. And in case more than one had 
such majority, and an equal number of votes, then the 
House of Representatives, voting by states (that is, the 
representation from each state having one vote) were 
immediately to choose, by ballot, one of them for Pre- 
sident. Under this provision of the Constitution, Mr. 
Adams might hope, if the votes for him and Washing- 
ton had been equal (and from his complaint that they 
were not, it is pretty evident that he expected it) to 
have obtained the preference, by the choice of the 
house ; leaving to Washington the honour of being his 
" lieutenant." At any rate, he would have contemplat- 
ed the fact with great complacency, that the people, 
acting by their electors, held him in equal honour with 
Washington. From his education as a lawyer, and his 
learned investigations of what concerned civil rule, he 
probably thought himself entitled to a preference. But 
Mr. Adams has admitted and repeated a TRUTH, too well 
known, that "KNOWLEDGE is by no means necessarily con- 
nected With WISDOM Or VIRTUE."t 

* Washington had all the votes 69 : Adams, 34. 
t Defence^ the American Constitutions of Government, vol. i, Letter 29- 

R E T I E W 


THE first letter in the " Correspondence" is from Mr. 
Adams, dated Nov. 28, 1803, near three years after his 
rival, Mr. Jefferson, had intercepted him in his second 
march towards the President's cfiair. In this letter, Mr. 
Adams acknowledges the receipt of an oration of Cun- 
ningham's, and of a " brochure,"* in which this friend 
ascribes to Mr. Jefferson the authorship of a pamphlet 
entitled 4i Thoughts on Government, in a letter from 
a gentleman to his friend." Mr. Adams says he was 
himself the author, and that it had been published with 
his name ; but, from the quotation of his correspondent, 
" suspects that some rascal had reprinted it, and imput- 
* ; ed it to the name of Mr. Jefferson." 

In his next letter, dated January 16, 1804, Mr. Adams 
returns to Cunningham a newspaper, in w^hich, with a 
poignant sneer, he says, " My poor ' Thoughts on Gov- 
" eminent' are wickedly and libellously imputed to ' the 
" greatest man in America !' " " libellously," because 
(such appears to be the obvious implication) his own 
views of government were, probably, so different from 
Mr. Jefferson's theories. In the same letter, Mr. Ad- 
ams, in replying to Cunningham's request to be furnish- 
ed with information concerning Jefferson, communicates 
the sentiments I shall presently introduce. 

Mr. Jefferson, in his letter of October 12th, 1823, ac- 

* A pamphlet. 


^knowledges the receipt of one from Mr. Adams, dated 
September 18th, which was a few days after his Cor- 
respondence with Cunningham had been published in 
Boston. This letter, no doubt, was written to apolo- 
gize to Mr. Jefferson for the pointed reproaches he had 
uttered against him, in his confidential letters to Cun- 
ningham. On the 12th of the next month, Mr. Jeffer- 
son writes a consolatory answer to Mr. Adams ; assur- 
ing him of his " unabated and constant attachment, 
friendship and respect." But Jefferson had not then 
seen the Correspondence. " I had for some time," says 
he, " observed, in the public papers, dark hints ar.d 
" mysterious innuendoes of a correspondence of yours 
" with a friend to whom you had opened your bosom 
" without reserve, and which was to be made public by 
" that friend or his representative ; and now it is said 
" to be actually published. It has not yet reached us, 
" but extracts have been given, and such as seemed 
" most likely to draw a curtain of separation between 
" you and myself." Mr. Jefferson then exclaims with 
" indignation against the author of this outrage on pri- 
" vate correspondence." This indignation is doubtless 
the echo of Mr. Adams's expression of resentment 
against Cunningham's son, the publisher of the Corres- 
pondence. But Mr. Adams, in his apologetical letter, 
did not tell Mr. Jefferson, that, although the present 
publication was ".an outrage on private correspon- 
dence," yet it was, in fact, only an anticipation of a 
3^ear or two perhaps of a few months only of the pub- 
lication of the same correspondence, with his (Adams's) 
permission : for the injunction of secrecy was limited 
to his own life. His words are, " I shall insist that 
whatever I write to you upon the subject shall be con- 
fidential as long as I live"* It is true, the subject here 
directly referred to was his removing me from office ; 
but his details on that act, and his libels on my charac- 
ter, pervade the whole correspondence. Besides, why 
should Cunningham, the publisher, be more tender of 
Mr. Jefferson's character than of mine ? The latter 

* Letter, Nov. 7, 


was not less dear to me, my family and friends, than his 
to his family and adherents; and the humble talents I 
possessed were for as many years devoted to the service 
of my country : whether as faithfully, I am willing to 
submit to Mr. Jefferson's own decision. 

On the 10th of January, 1804, Cunningham informs 
Mr. Adams, that " he had for some time been collecting 
" materials to present the public with a full view of the 
" character and conduct of Mr. Jefferson ;" and asks Mr. 
Adams to furnish him with " some particulars inte- 
resting incidents in Mr. Jefferson's career ;" at the same 
time telling him, that he had been informed, " that such 
i% a work was preparing by Mr. C6leman of New-York, 
" under the eye of Hamilton ;" which might induce him 
to relinquish it. In his answer of the 16th of the same 
month, Mr. Adams says, " I would not advise you to re- 
" linquish the project you have in hand, because another 
" has the same. If the two persons you name are en- 
" gaged in such a work, you may depend upon it no 
" good will come of it." " Why ? Mr. Adams subjoins 
the reason : " There will be so many little passions and 
" weak prejudices, so little candour and sincerity in it, 
" that the dullest reader will see through it." That is, 
4 Hamilton has always been Jefferson's opponent and 
k enemy ; and whatever he says to Jefferson's disadvan- 
6 tage, will be ascribed to his resentments, and will not 
be believed ; whereas, whatever you shall state, as an 
4 impartial observer, will stick : harebit lateri lethalis 
' arundo?* 

Then, in compliance with Cunningham's request for 
information concerning Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams free- 
ly makes the following contribution : " He [Jefferson] 
" always professed great friendship for me, even when, 
" as it now appears, he >vas countenancing Frerieau, 
" Bache, Duane and Callender." " Anecdotes from my 
" memory would certainly be known. There are some 
" there known only to him and me ; but they would 
" not be believed, or at least they would be said not to 
u be believed, and would be imputed to envy, revenge, 

* The fatal shaft will fasten in his side. 


* or vanity. I wish him no ill. I envy him not. / 
" sliudder at the calamities which I fear his conduct is 
"preparing for his country ; from A MEAN THIRST OF 


" SINCERITY." In this paragraph there is a clear impli- 
cation, that some of the anecdotes which he could re- 
cite would present such ill favoured features of Jeifer- 
son, and such fair ones of himself, that they would be 
imputed, by Mr. Jefferson's friends, to envy, revenge, 
or vanity. 

In the same letter of January 10th, Cunningham says, 
" I wish to discover every arcanum that would be of 
" use to develop the true character of the Salt-Moun- 
" tain Philosopher. This mountain has increased the 
" wonders of the world to eight ; and if Mr. Jefferson 
" would sink a tomb in a part of it for himself, it might, 
" better than being a mummy, preserve his body and 
" memory through succeeding ages." This pointed 
ridicule of his old and nearly half-century friend, Mr, 
Adams doubtless enjoyed : certainly it received no re- 

If the "venerable and illustrious sages" ofMonticello 
and Montezillo* are ever to be reconciled, and con- 
fer and receive mutual forgiveness, there is no time to 
be lost. The latter, being eighty-eight years old, and 
" now trembling on the verge of the grave ;" and the 
former, an " octogenarian," waiting impatiently " for 
" the friendly hand of death to rid him at once of all 
" his heavy hours." 

Mr. Jefferson, in his letter to Mr. Adams, is pleased 
to suggest, that whatever alienation between them 

* It has been the practice, in European states, for gentlemen to give parti- 
cular names to their villas, or seats of residence in the country. This has 
been imitated in America : and in Virginia, and other states where there are 
not divisions of territory smaller than counties, it may have been found con- 
venient. But in New-England, where counties are divided into small town- 
ships, an;i each distinguished by a legal and well known name, to give other 
names to small spots of a few acres, or to a farm, within a township, is pre- 
posterous, and worse than useless. Yet Mr. Adams has (to use a word of 
Mr. Jefferson's) belittled himself, by lately giving to the place of his residence 
in Quincy (a post-town too) the name of Montezillo Little Mount. Wheth- 
er this was the effect of vanity, or a humble imitation of his friend elevated 
on the top of Monticello, I do not undertake to decide. 


had ever taken place, was to be ascribed to tale-bear- 
ers ; " filling our ears," says he, " with malignant false- 
" hoods ; by dressing up hideous phantoms of their 
" own creation, presenting them to you under my 
" name, to me under yours, and endeavouring to instil 
" into our minds things concerning each other, the most 
" destitute of truth." But who has not heard of the 
libels on President Adams (not omitting Washington) 
in the pamphlet called " The Prospect before Us," 
written by Callender, under the countenance, patron- 
age and pay of Mr. Jefferson ? of which libels Callen- 
der was convicted by a jury at Richmond ; for which 
he was fined and imprisoned ; and for which he receiv- 
ed (as he had a good right to expect) President Jeffer- 
son's pardon.* The patronage and pay were eviden- 
ced by two letters from Jefferson to Callender, which, 
after they had quarrelled, Callender put into the hands 
of Augustine Davis, Esq. of Richmond. From Davis 
they went into the hands of a very respectable citizen 
of Virginia, from whom I received them. Both w^ere 
in Mr. Jefferson's own hand writing, to me perfectly well 
known. Even the hand writing of Davis, on the backs 
of the letters, noting his receipt of them from Callen- 
der, was known to me, in consequence of an official 
correspondence, of more than three years, when Davis 
was the post-master in Richmond, and I postmaster 

Extract of a letter, dated Monticello, Sept. 6, '99,/rowi Thomas Jeffer- 
son to Mr. Callender. 
" SIR, 

" By a want of arrangement in a neighboring post-office during 
the absence of the post-master, my letters and papers for two posts 
back were detained. I suppose it was owing to this that your let- 
ter tho' dated Aug. 10, did not get to my hand till the last day of the 
month, since which this is the first day I can through the post-office 
acknolege the receipt of it. mr. Jeffersonj happens to be here 
and directs his agent to call on you with this & pay you 50 dollars, 
on account of the book you are about to publish, when it shall be 
out be so good as to send me 2 or 3 copies, & the rest only when 
I shall ask for them." 

f: See the Appendix for some of the libellous passages in Callender's book, 
f George Jefferson, nephew to Thomas Jefferson. 

* 14 

The next paragraph has no relation to " the book ;'* 
and the letter concludes with these words : 

" with every wish for your welfare, I am, 

with great regard, Sir, 
your most obedt. servt. 


at the foot of the second page. 

The other letter is dated Monticello, Oct. 6, '99. The 
first line acknowledges the receipt of a letter from 
Callender of September 29, and concludes with these 
words : 

" I thank you for the proof sheets you inclosed me : such papers 
cannot fail to produce the best effect, they inform the thinking 
part of the nation ; and these again supported by the tax gatherers as 
their vouchers set the people to rights, you will know from whom 
this comes without a signature : the omission of which has been 
rendered almost habitual with me by the curiosity of the post-offices, 
indeed a period is now approaching during which I shall discontinue 
writing letters as much as possible, knowing that every snare \v:ii be 
used to get hold of what may be perverted in the eyes of the public. 


This is addressed to 

Richmond "* 

And on the back of each letter were these words, in 
the hand-writing of Mr. Davis : 

" Given by M. Callender to Aug. Davis." 

There can be no room for an apology for Mr. Jeffer- 
son, in paying " fifty dollars on account of the book," 
on the ground that he might not know its contents ; 
for by the second letter it appears that Callender sent 
him the proof sheets, and that he approved of their con- 
tents ; "such papers," says he, "cannot fail to produce the 
best effect :" that is, Callender' s book, " The Prospect 
before Us," by its slanders on Washington and Adams, 
and on the whole federal party, would poison the minds 
of many well intentioned people, inflame the passions 

* Perhaps the reader will notice some singularities in the above extracts 
from Mr. Jefferson's letters : he writes acknolege for acknowledge, and begins 
his sentences (excepting the first word in a paragraph) with small instead 
of capital letters. It is his fashhm in all his manuscripts that have fallen un- 
der my observation. 


of the democrats, and, by the aid of the whiskey and 
other internal taxes, (always disagreeable to the multi- 
tude) thin the federal ranks, give victory at the pend- 
ing election to democracy, and to Mr. Jefferson the 
long contemplated object of his " -inordinate ambition," 
the presidency of the United States. 

This whole Callender affair, although no trial in our 
courts was of more notoriety, Mr. Ad; ms has been 
willing to forget, since his son, John Quincy Adams, 
in 1807, fully enlisted himself under the banners of 
President Jefferson. Callender was convicted under 
what has been called the sedition law ; a law enacted 
in Mr. Adams's presidency, and for its duration limited 
to that term. One of its objects for it embraced 
other subjects was to protect him from the torrents 
of calumny pouring upon him from all the streams of 
democracy. It was a law more abused than under- 
stood. While it provided for the punishment of slan- 
derers who are always liars (such being the import of 
the word) it gave protection to honest, truth-telling 
men, in criminal prosecutions, for alleged libels on the 
President of the United States ; by authorizing them to 
give in evidence the truth of the facts alleged, for their 

In his letter No. X, dated Sept. 27, 1808, Mr. Adams 
enumerates various acts of Mr. Jefferson's administra- 
tion, which he reprobates ; as, the repeal of the judi- 
ciary law, which Mr. Adams says he " always believed 
to be a violation of the constitution ;" " the repeal of 
the taxes," so necessary to provide defences against 
foreign dangers, and to diminish the national debt ; and 
44 the removals of so many of the best men, and the ap- 
pointments of so many of the worst." 

Even legislative acts, in Mr. Jefferson's administra- 
tion, may be ascribed to him : for he had acquired such 
an astonishing ascendency with his party, (though it 
w r ould puzzle any impartial inquirer to find a reason for it) 
that the manifestation of his wishes was sufficient pow- 
erfully to influence, if not to determine, the passing of 
a law r . And this gentleman has been spending his last 


breath, and some of the remaining rays of his glimmer- 
ing lamp, in attempting to destroy the independence 
of the judiciary our surest defence against tyranny 
by depriving the judges of the only safe tenure of their 
office, " during good behaviour ;" and rendering them, 
at short periods, absolutely dependent on the executive 
for reappointment ; and, thenceforward, his degraded, 
miserable, corrupt tools. Were this pernicious project 
to obtain, we should no longer be governed by certain 
laws, but by the varying passions of our rulers. Had 
this been our judiciary system when Mr. Jefferson was 
president, he would have hurled from the bench chief- 
justice Marshall, because he did not hang Aaron Burr; 
although judging with the wisdom and purity of Hale, 
and the integrity, ability and firmness of Holt. 

It is in his letter of July 2, 1822, to lieutenant go- 
vernor Barry of Kentucky, that we have seen broach- 
ed these dangerous ideas. It is a letter which ought 
to be preserved, as a characteristic memorial of a 
personage so much celebrated as Mr. Jefferson.* The 
Supreme Court of the United States, with the inde- 
pendence essential to a due administration of justice, 
had given some decisions adverse to the pretensions 
and acts of certain individual states to restrain them 
within the limits of the constitution, of which that 
court is the rightful interpreter : and if the national 
legislature, or the legislatures of individual states, 
overleap its boundaries, that court is the only Con- 
stitutional Power which can bring them back. Yet 
this is the power which Mr. Jefferson would destroy. 
" Let," says he, " the future appointment of judges be 
" for four or six years, and renewable by the President 
" and Senate :" that is, at the pleasure of one man, 
the President, who would or would not re-nominate 
the judges, according to their decisions on questions 
affecting himself, his friends, his party, his caprice, or 
his visionary notions ; and thus destroy the only Pow- 
er whose acts can be relied on in the highest degree 
to which any human institution can be entitled to confi- 
dence as most uniformly regulated by REASON. 

* It will be found in the Appendix. 


It deserves notice, that when Mr. Jefferson wrote 
his letter to lieut. governor Barry, of the seven judges 
then on the bench of the Supreme Court, five had re- 
ceived their appointments from Mr. Jefferson and Mr. 
Madison, from their own party. The judges Marshall 
and Washington received their appointments from Mr. 
Adams, in his better days when he was himself a fede- 
ralist. Yet these dcnlocratic judges, according to Mr. 
Jefferson, were, by their judicial decisions, on solemn 
argument, violating the constitution, and annihilating 
State Rights ! No ; the obvious solution of their pro- 
ceedings is this : Feeling their independence of party ; 
and, like all other men, when not under the bias of per- 
sonal interest, disposed to do justice ; and knowing 
that their reputation and future fame to which none 
are indifferent will rest on the purity as well as the 
ability of their decisions ; they will, by their enlight- 
ened and impartial adjudications, satisfy their con- 
sciences, enjoy a present reward in the approbation 
of their fellow citizens, and transmit their names with 
honour to posterity. This is the Power, and the Only 
Power, which can present a check to the National Le- 
gislature, whenever its acts shall transcend the limits 
of the Constitution ; which was intended to bridle the 
curvetings of Congress, as w r ell as the flcunderings of 
State Legislatures ; assemblies which, like individual 
rulers, feeling Power, may sometimes forget Right. 
This is the Power which may decide, in the last re- 
sort, the important question now agitated, with great 
zeal and ability, in the House of Representatives, on the 
making of roads and canals, by the authority of the 
General Government; a measure warmly advocated 
by some, and as warmly opposed by others, of that 
National Assembly. Should it be enacted, any citizen 
whose property shall be touched by the national road 
or canal, by instituting an action against the national 
agent, may bring the question before the Supreme 
Court ; and if that Court pronounces the act unconsti- 
tional, that Power which holds the purse and the 
sword the power so much dreaded, in anticipation. 


by Patrick Henry and some other distinguished citi- 
zens must stop. For I am not willing to believe that 
Congress, disregarding the Court's decision, would by 
physical force carry the act into execution ; but would 
resort to the mode prescribed by the Constitution, for 
obtaining, by its amendment, the desired power. , But 
it is this moral power in the Supreme Court, the pow- 
er of REASON over brute force, which Mr. Jefferson 
would destroy. Every four or six years, he would 
" bring their conduct under revision" of the Presi- 
dent and Senate ; and renew their appointments, or 
eject them from the Bench, as their decisions should 
quadrate with, or oppose, the views, interests or pas- 
sions of the President and Senate for the time being : 
and one of the Court's decisions giving offence, might 
be the denial of the power of Congress to make na- 
tional roads and canals. Yet this is the ORACLE to 
which one of the able opposers of the existing bill ap- 
peals, and by the force of whose name, he hopes to in- 
fluence the opinions of at least some members of the 
house, to reject the bill : and if one half of the emi- 
nence, which, in the gentleman's eloquent eulogy, is 
ascribed to Mr. Jefferson, were his due, his opinion, in 
all cases, would be entitled to much respect. " Against 
" this power of the general government, to make inter- 
" nal improvements, by means of roads and canals, un- 
4; der any part of the Constitution, Mr. Stevenson said 
" he would bring the sanction of a high name in the an- 
" nals of our Political History, the authority of a man 
" whose principles had been as uniformly steadfast as 
" republican, and whose virtues were as pure as his 
" genius was splendid ; a man who had justly been 
" considered as the 'Apostle of Liberty.' It was unne- 
" cessary to say that he alluded to Thomas Jefferson." 
His message to Congress, Dec. 2, 1806, is then refer- 
red to. It is the same celebrated message in which 
Mr. Jefferson casts about him to know what to do with 
the surpluses of the public revenue soon to be accu- 
mulated in the National Treasury ; and suggests the 
idea of expending them " for the purposes of public 


" education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other ob- 
" jects of public improvement, as it may be thought pro- 
" per to add to the constitutional enumeration of feder- 
" al powers." Mr. Jefferson adds, " I suppose an amend- 
" ment to the constitution, by the consent cf the states, 
" necessary ; because the objects now recommended 
" are not among those enumerated in the constitution, 
" and to which it permits the public moneys to be ap- 
" plied." His immediate successor, however, instead 
of being perplexed to find objects on which to expend 
Mr. Jeiferson's surpluses, was obliged to study to find 
expedients to supply deficiencies ; and actually to bor- 
row some millions of dollars. 

But to return to the topic of mutual forgiveness, of 
which the two distinguished gentlemen of whom I am 
speaking appear so anxious to make a public exhibi- 
tion What is its character ? The apologetical letter 
of Mr. Adams would afford some information ; but it is 
not published, and I presume never will be : immutt- 
lated, it would be a curiosity. Did he confess that the 
sentiments he once entertained and expressed of Mr. 
Jefferson were erroneous? that he believed Mr. Jef- 
ferson never contemplated nor carried any measures 
injurious to his country ? that he was not chargeable 
with a " mean thirst of popularity," nor an " inordinate 
ambition," nor " a want of sincerity ?" and that he pos- 
sessed no anecdotes which if made known would be 
disreputable to Mr. Jefferson ? And will Mr. Jefferson 
say, that he never countenanced Freneau, Bache, Bu- 
ane and Callender, in writing and publishing their slan- 
ders against Mr. Adams, in order, by diminishing his 
popularity, to prevent his re-election to the presidency ? 
Will Mr. Jefferson go one step further, and say, that he 
did not, when Secretary of State, patronize, and in ef- 
fect set up, the National Gazette, edited by Philip Fre- 
neau, a translating clerk* in his office ; the whole ten- 
dency of which and thence we have a right to say its 
design was to undermine the administration of Wash* 

* An imperfect translator too, though qualified to edit such a gazette. This, 
msustnined by a sufficient subscription, died an early death. 


iiigton, conducted, as it always was, on federal princi- 
ples ? principles to which Mr. Adams w r as attached, 
and on the expected adherence to which his single' 
election to the presidency was obtained. Or, the facts 
being considered as unquestionable, will Mr. Jefferson 
now admit that he sinned against Washington, and Ad- 
ams, and the federal system of government, and truth, 
in the countenance he gave to those licentious libellers 
of them all ? When these two gentlemen shall make 
these avowals and confessions, we may, in the exercise 
of abounding charity, ascribe their mutual forgivings to 
a temper becoming Christian penitence an act not 
lightly pressing on persons ivhose accounts are so near 
being closed. 

In reviewing the "Correspondence," the reproaches 
uttered by Mr. Adams against Mr. Jefferson would, in- 
deed, have found a place, for the necessary purpose 
of contrasting them with the subsequent expressions 
of friendship, respect and praise ; the latter drawn from 
him, or rather volunteered, in consequence of the new 
political situation of his son, in Mr. Jefferson's corps. 
I should not, however, have made a single animadver- 
sion on Mr. Jefferson, but fov the appearance of his 
letter of October 12, in exculpation, not of Mr. Adams 
only, but of himself; apologizing for their mutual 
heart-burnings and ill will, by ascribing them to a cause, 
plausible indeed, and wrought up with no little inge- 
nuity, and wanting only truth and fact for its basis. 
He insinuates that tale-bearers have produced all the 
mischief : but he speaks guardedly " there might not 
be wanting those who wished to make it" their polit- 
ical opposition " a personal one, by filling their ears 
with malignant falsehoods :" and that the " whispers 
" of these people might make them forget what they 
" had known of each other for so many years, and 
" years of so much trial." Then, as an experienced 
philosopher, he closes the solution of their difference 
by a remark, just in itself, and proper, if it were ap- 
plicable to the case of himself and Mr. Adams. " All 
he says, " who have attended to the workings 

- 4 of the human mind, who have seen the false colours 
"under which passion sometimes dresses the actions 
" and motives of others, have seen also those passions, 
" in subsiding with time and reflection, dissipating like 
" mists before the rising sun, and restoring to us the 
" sight of all things in their true shape and colours." 
Very handsomely spoken indeed. But will Mr. Jeffer- 
son say that the opinion he now ertertains of Mr. Ad- 
ams materially differs from that re entertained from 
the year 1796 to 1801 ? If, during that period, dark 
mists were thrown around Mr. Adams, did not Mr. Jef- 
ferson contribute to raise them ? If they were malig- 
nant vapours, were they not generated by the men 
whom he patronized, and at least one of whom he paid 
(as we have seen) for that very purpose ? Were those 
men some of the mischievous go-betweens, whose 
" whispers" made two old friends " forget what they 
" had known of each other for so many years ?" Mr. 
Adams, however, during that period, seems not to have 
supposed, that those libellers were the agents of Mr. 
Jefferson. His constant professions of friendship had 
laid Mr. Adams's suspicions asleep. The discovery of 
the truth justified his branding Mr. Jefferson with " a 
want of sincerity." 

To use such means to outstrip his* competitor, and 
rise to the supreme power, was to the last degree dis- 
honourable ; and, joined to his affectation of distin- 
guished love for the people, (to be manifested by a re- 
peal of the internal taxes, in order to ease their bur- 
thens) or, to use his own cant " not to take from the 
mouth of labour the bread it has earned" the prac- 
tice of such means, and of such artifices, justly subject- 
ed Mr. Jefferson to another of Mr. Adams's charges 
" a mean thirst. of popularity." And the evidences of 
these two,, support the third charge " his inordinate 

Mr. Adams will not thank me for the pains I have 
here taken to justify him before the public for uttering 
those reproachful charges against Mr. Jefferson : for, 
in his letter of apology, he may have taken them all 


back, together with every thing else in the " Corres- 
pondence" which could give offence to his half century 
friend, the " patriarch" of republicans lest they should 
have an inauspicious influence on the fortunes of his son. 
After all, what is there in Mr. Jefferson's letter, of 
October 12th, Ip entitle him to the honour of a tri- 
umph by some few so liberally decreed? Suppose 
Mr. Adams's accusations well founded as every intel- 
ligent reader, and all others acquainted with the affairs 
of the United States during the last twenty four ycvrs, 
may justly be inclined to believe and suppos* Mr. 
Jefferson to be conscious of their truth ; did it require 
any great stretch of charity to forgive his friend and 
fellow " patriarch," 

u Now at his feet submissive in distress," 

and suing for pardon ? and when freeiy to grant it 
would present the idea of his own innocence and of Mr. 
Adams's guilt ? for if not guilty, why make apologies 
or sue for pardon? And while Mr. Adams's situation 
bears not the most honourable aspect, that of his friend 
is singularly happy ; it exhibits the loveliness of inno- 
cence, the calmness of philosophy, and the meek, for- 
giving temper of Christianity. 

But in what originated Mr. Adams's solicitude so 
promptly to apologize, in order to prevent, or soften, 
the displeasure of his old friend ? Certainly not the 
belief that all his reproaches were unfounded. It was, 
as above suggested, the apprehension of the effect of 
the " Correspondence," made public prematurely be- 
fore the time which he had himself assigned for its 
publication and when he had not contemplated a crisis 
like the present. It was a moment of high family con- 
cern. His son, who, by deserting his and his father's 
former friends, and joining their enemies, had risen 
anew to place and power a boon which he saw was 
no longer attainable if he continued in their ranks, and 
persevered in their principles was now a candidate 
for the highest object of republican ambition the pre- 
sidency of the United States. This elevation would 


depend on his standing well with the great dominant 
party, of which Mr. Jefferson, originally the leader, was 
still, though not officially, yet in publi estimation, the 
political head. Under these circumstances, Mr. Adams 
hastens to make apologies and atonement to Mr. Jef- 
ferson, for the just reproaches, or the foul slanders 
they must be one or the other which he had uttered 
against him. Mr. Adams may avow either, as will 
best comport with his knowledge, his conscience, or 
his family interest. His choice will not change my 
opinion, nor the opinions of the distinguished citizens 
still living, who have observed the course of public 
affairs, and of those who have conducted them, for the 
last three or four and twenty years. 

In letter No. IV, January 10, 1804, Cunningham (as 
before observed) requests information concerning Mr. 
Jefferson, supposing " no man living had so thorough a 
knowledge of his transactions as Mr. Adams." In his 
answer of the 16th of the same month, Mr. Adams 
says, " You are mistaken when you say that ' no man 
" living has so much knowledge of Mr. Jefferson's 
" transactions as myself.' In truth I know but little con- 
" cerning him" Then, giving some details, showing how 
small had been the intercourse between them, he adds, 
" Although we agreed always very well, there was no 
" very close intimacy between us" Now observe the 
contrast. A little more than five years afterwards 
when his son John Quincy Adams (having before de- 
voted himself to Mr. Jefferson, and continuing in full 
favour with his successor, Mr. Madison) had been no- 
minated minister plenipotentiary to Russia Mr. Ad- 
ams was capable of making the following declaration : 
" I sought and obtained an interview with Mr. Jeffer- 
" son.* With this gentleman I had lived on terms of 
" INTIMATE FRIENDSHIP for five and twenty years, had 
" acted with him in dangerous times and arduous con- 
' flicts, and always found him assiduous, laborious, and 
" as far as I could judge, upright and faithful."t And 

* This refers to affairs of 1797 ; Mr. Jeflerson being- then Vice-President. 
t Mr. Adams's letter No. xiii, dated May 29, 18C9, in the Boston Patriot. 


farther on, Mr. Adams says, " I will not take leave of 
u Mr. Jefferson in this place, without declaring my 
" opinion, that the accusations against him, of blind de- 
" votion to France, of hostility to England, of hatred 
" to commerce, of partiality and duplicity in his late 
k4 negotiations with the belligerent powers, are without 
" foundation.-' In the progress of this Review, the 
reader will learn how to estimate any of Mr. Adams's 
opinions, in cases where the interests of himself or of 
his son may be affected. I accord with Mr. Adams 
thus far that Mr. Jefferson's devotion to France was 
not a blind devotion. The elucidation of this remark 
will appear, when I describe his Embargo, and the 
support of it by John Q. Adams. 

So anxious has been Mr. Adams to conciliate the 

food will of Mr. Jefferson (for the persuasive reason I 
ave mentioned) that he perverts the use of as plain 
Words as any in our language. He has said (in one of 
his late published letters) that Mr. Jefferson and he 
were never rivals ; but that Jefferson and Hamilton 
were rivals ! Surely, every reader of English knows, 
that they who contend for one common object are rivals. 
The common object, for which Adams and Jefferson 
contended, was the Presidency. But Jefferson and 
Hamilton aimed to effect different measures in the ad- 
ministration of the government and therefore were 
not rivals, but antagonists. 

In noticing the extraordinary ascendency acquired 
by Mr. Jefferson over the minds of his partisans and 
admirers, I remarked, that it would puzzle any one to 
account for it. And I ask, What evidences has he 
given to the world, of his being, w r hat he seems gene- 
rally reputed to be, a profound philosopher, and a great 
statesman ? The former part of his character (which, 
by the w r ay, has little to do with government) I leave 
with philosophers and men of science.* Of the latter, 
every man of common sense is qualified to judge, from 
its practical effects. For the rule, " by their fruits ye 
shall know them," is alike applicable in politics as in 

* See Appendix, B. 


morals. A list of the beneficent acts of his eight years* 
administration of the government of the United States 
is a desideratum. Those of a contrary character would 
rise to a large amount. But Jet us look back to earlier 
and more virtuous times. In the war of words with 
the mother country, antecedent to the war of arms, 
when every American, who could hold a pen, employ- 
ed it in defending American Rights, it is natural to 
suppose that Mr. Jefferson's was not idle ; and then, 
probably (though his political lucubrations may not 
nave passed the bounds of Virginia) he gained the re- 
putation of holding a good pen ; to which Mr. Adams 
alludes in a letter to me, extracts from which will ap- 
pear in the Appendix.* But the performance for 
which Mr. Jefferson has been most distinguished, is 
the Declaration of Independence. This has been ex- 
travagantly eulogized, as if rising to a degree of excel- 
lence that not one of his cotemporaries had the power 
to reach. In my humble opinion, however, much of 
its merit is owing to the amendments made when re- 
ported to Congress, where one fourth of the whole was 
struck out, and some things (not many indeed) were 
introduced. In my letter to Mr. Adams, on this sub- 
ject, I remarked, that the Declaration contained few 
new ideas. Mr. Adams, in his answer, says, not one ; 
but he thinks the best parts were struck out. I shall 
give, in the Appendix,t a copy of Mr. Jefferson's 
draught of the Declaration, which I took some years 
ago from one in his own hand-writing ; by the com- 
paring of which with the Declaration as voted and pro* 
claimed by Congress, every reader will be enabled to 
judge for himself. 

But Mr. Jefferson added to the United States the 
rich and immense territory of Louisiana ; thus extend- 
ing their dominions from the Atlantic to the Pacific 
Ocean ! Yes the acquisition was effected in his r re- 
sidency ; and his merit in the case shall now be ex- 

* See Appendix, & | Appendix, D. 



By the treaty of Oct. 27, 1795, between the United 
States and Spain, the King, assenting to the claim of 
the United States to the free navigation of the river 
Mississippi, from its source to the ocean, stipulated to 
permit ^he citizens of the United States, " for the space 
" of three years, to deposite their merchandises and 
" effects in the port of New-Orleans, and to export 
" them from thence without paying any other duty 
" than a fair price for the use of the stores ;" and pro- 
mised either to continue this permission, or to " as- 
" sign to them, on another part of the banks of the 
" Mississippi, an equivalent establishment." The be- 
nefit of this stipulation was enjoyed by our citizens 
until 1802, when the Spanish intendant at New-Orleans 
" occluded" (as Mr. Jefferson said) shut them out,, 
from this deposite, without assigning any equivalent 
establishment elsewhere. This violation of the trea- 
ty-stipulation was not to be endured ; and, upon re- 
jtresentations to the government of Spain, the place of 
deposite was restored. To whom this interruption of 
our right is to be ascribed, w^ill presently be seen. I 
presume it was to prevent its recurrence, that Mr. Jef- 
ferson instructed his minister at Paris (the late Chancel- 
lor Livingston) to obtain, as I have understood, a cession 
of the isle or port of New-Orleans, or some part of the 
eastern bank of the Mississippi that is, of West Flo- 
rida, or of both to the United States. It is not a little 
curious, that a negotiation for purchasing supposed 
Spanish territory should be carried on at Paris with 
the French government, instead of Madrid, with the 
government of Spain. In the same manner, when, at 
a subsequent period, Mr. Jefferson proposed to Con- 
gress the purchase of Florida, the certain property of 
Spain, the negotiation was instituted at Paris. The 
truth was, that France exercised a complete ascenden- 
cy over Spain, which was no longer a free agent. 
Godoy, the Prince of Peace, the favourite of the Queen, 
ruled Srmin in the name of her weak King; and Go- 
doy was Bonaparte's tool. The " occlusion" of the 
port of New-Orleans against American merchandise 


and effects excited keen resentment in the United 
States ; and some were ready to send an armed force 
to occupy the port ; and the poor Spaniard was the 
subject of severe reproach. But I presume it was not 
then known, that the King of Spain had been, before 
that time (viz. on October 1, 1800) compelled to re- 
convey Louisiana to France. This fact exposes the 
secret of the interruption of our right of deposite at 
New-Orleans ; and it was against the French govern- 
ment that the indignation of the United States should 
have been excited, had the retrocession of Louisiana 
to France been known. The opening again of the 
port of New-Orleans arose from the circumstance, that 
Bonaparte w T as not prepared to take immediate posses- 
sion of Louisiana. But the territory having been ac- 
tually reconveyed to France accounts for the unsuc- 
cessful attempts of Mr. Livingston to obtain a cession 
of Orleans and part of the adjacent province of West 

At length, during the short and feeble administra- 
tion of the British government which succeeded Mr. 
Pitt's, a peace was negotiated at Amiens between 
Great-Britain and France. Bonaparte seized this in- 
terval to prepare a fleet and army to go and take pos- 
session of New-Orleans and the whole province of 
Louisiana. But the British government soon perceiv- 
ed, that it was, in effect, an armistice, rather than a 
peace, which had been concluded at Amiens ; and that 
the war must be renewed. And finding that Bona- 
parte w r as going to add the immense province of Loui- 
siana a new world to the dominions of France, a 
British fleet was despatched to block up the ports (in 
Holland) where Bonaparte had assembled military 
forces, and ships to transport them to New-Orleans. 

It was in this state of things that Bonaparte became 
willing to transfer to the United States not the island 
of New-Orleans and part of the adjacent territory 
but the whole province of Louisiana the whole or no 
part. For he w T as justly apprehensive that, its retro- 
trocession to France being then known, Great-Britain 


would send an adequate force, and take possession of 
it for herself. If therefore he could raise some mil- 
lions o dollars by the sale of the province to the Uni- 
ted States, the sum would be so much clear gain. Un- 
der these circumstances, the transfer to the United 
States was made, and (if I mistake not) rather pressed 
on our envoys, Chancellor Livingston and Mr. Mon- 
roe ; and they agreed to receive it, stipulating the 
price at fifteen millions of dollars. They gave to Mr. 
King, American minister in London, information of the 
treaty ; with which the British government, to whom 
he made known the transfer, was perfectly satisfied. 
And I recollect that when Alexander Baring (son-in- 
law to the late Mr. Bingham, and whom I had known 
in Philadelphia) came from England to Washington, to 
receive the six per cent, stock created to pay for this 
purchase, he told me, that the British government 
would sooner have paid the money stipulated for the 
purchase, than have suffered Louisiana to have become 
a province of France. 

Thus, to British policy and interest are the United 
States indebted for the acquisition of Louisiana. And, 
if gratitude ever enters into the consideration of na- 
tions, we owe it to Britain, for that acquisition, as real- 
ly as to France for her assistance in acquiring our in- 
dependence. But on the score of gratitude, in these 
two cases, we are indebted neither to one nor to the 
other. Each of them acted to serve her own interest 
exclusively : France, to diminish the power of Britain 
by cutting off thirteen flourishing colonies ; and Britain, 
to prevent an accession to the power of France in pos- 
sessing the immense territory of Louisiana, and a con- 
sequent control over all our Western States, which de- 
pended on the Mississippi, and the rivers running into 
it, for the conveyance of their boundless products to a 
market. Yes, we owe it to the naval power of Britain, 
that Louisiana is not now a province of France. Bo- 
naparte had already sent his prefect, Mr. Laussat, to 
New-Orleans, to receive possession ; and he waited 
ottly for the arrival of the French fleet and army, to 


take upon himself the administration of the govern- 
ment* Before I take leave of Louisiana, I will add a 
few observations. 

At the close of the seven-years war, so disastrous to 
France, which was terminated by the peace of 1763, 
she ceded to Spain apparently in consideration of the 
losses which the latter had sustained by being drawn 
into that war, towards its close, in aid of France the 
province of Louisiana, westward of the river Mississip- 
pi, and the island of New-Orleans on its eastern side. 
The whole of Florida was ceded by France and Spain 
(each her part) to Great-Britain. In the course of the 
war of our revolution, France and Spain became once 
more engaged in a war with Great-Britain. Spain 
seized the occasion to possess herself of Florida ; and, 
at the treaty of peace of 1783, Britain relinquished her 
right to it 

I entertain no doubt, that at that time the government 
of France contemplated the regaining Louisiana ; and 
waited only for some favourable events to accomplish 
her purpose. It was unquestionably with this in view, 
that, in the negotiations at Paris, in 1782, for effecting 
a general peace, the French Minister represented to 
our Commissioners, authorized to treat of peace with 
Great-Britain, that they ought not to claim the country 
westward of the Allegany mountain, but to suffer it to 
go into the hands of Spain. Mr. Jay, however (for he 
was obliged for a while to act alone, though Dr. Franklin 
was also a commissioner) resisted all the French in- 
trigues, as well at Paris as in London ; and thus that 
country was secured to the United States. It was, un- 
questionably, with a view to this land-scheme, and some 
other plans injurious to the United States, that the 
French government exerted itself, and successfully, 
through its minister to the United States, la Luzerne, 
and the secretary of legation, Marbois, to obtain from 
Congress instructions to the American ministers for 
negotiating a peace with Great-Britain, wholly unwor- 
thy of the earlier firm, dignified and independent acts 

* ee Appendix, E. 


of that body. The commissioners were instructed " to 
" undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or 
" truce, without the knowledge and concurrence of the 
" ministers of the King of France, and ultimately to 
" govern themselves by their advice and opinion." 
This appeared to Mr. Jay so dishonourable to the Uni- 
ted States, and fraught with, such evil consequences, 
that he laid the ' instruction aside, and, in his negotia- 
tions with the British minister, considered only what 
the important interests of his country required ; and 
thus formed the basis of the treaty of peace, so highly 
advantageous to the United States. 

In pursuance of our treaty of 1795, with Spain, com- 
missioners were to be appointed to run the boundary 
line between the territory of the United States and 
Florida, from the river Mississippi to the Atlantic 
ocean. Andrew Ellicott was the commissioner on the 
part of the United States ; and, with the requisite at- 
tendants, he repaired to the Natchez, the place desig- 
nated in the treaty for the first meeting of the commis- 
sioners. From the time of his entering the Mississip- 
pi, after his descent by the Ohio, and coming to the 
first Spanish posts, and thence proceeding downwards 
towards the Natchez, there were mysterious appear- 
ances, suggesting the idea that delays and difficulties 
would be interposed, to prevent the running of the 
boundary line. The apprehensions of Mr. Ellicott 
were realized, after his arrival at the Natchez. He 
there received satisfactory information, that the gover- 
nor in chief at New-Orleans, and the sub-governor 
(Gayoso) at the Natchez, in some private and confi- 
dential communications, had suffered the secret to es- 
cape them, That is was intended, by delays and eva- 
sions, to defeat the attempt, on the part of the United 
States, to run the boundary line, and the execution of 
the treaty, in what concerned that country. Mr. Elli- 
cott states, that Governor Gayoso's original letter to a 
confidential friend, to that effect, had been in his hands. 
Accordingly, in the correspondence of this governor 
with Mr. Ellicott are seen a series of apologies, ex- 


euses, and empty professions, all contemptible ; arid 
offered in the face of treaty articles too plain to require 
a moment's hesitation as to their meaning. One of 
the articles stipulated the evacuation of the posts oc-* 
cupied by Spanish troops on the eastern bank of the 
Mississippi, within the known boundary of the United 
States. Of these the Spaniards still kept possession. 
All these occurrences are accounted for by the infor- 
mation next received, and stated by Mr. Ellicott 
" That the country either was or would be ceded to the 
" Republic of France"* It will be recollected that 
Spain had concurred with the other most considerable. 
European nations in warring against France, in the 
early years of her revolution ; but meeting with de- 
feats, and in danger of being over-run by the French 
arms, her prime minister, Godoy, made peace with 
France : and for this act, at that time so auspicious to 
Spain, he had conferred on him the extraordinary title , 
of Prince of Peace. This was in the year 1795. 
From this time the Spanish councils were under the 
influence of the French Republican Government ; and y 
eventually, appear to have been in a state of complete 
subjugation, in whatever materially concerned the in- 
terests of France. And to that controlling influence 
are to be ascribed, all the delays, difficulties and inju- 
ries experienced by the United States and their citi- 
zens, in every thing relating to their interests in the 
country in question. 

So much for the friendship of France to the United 
States ; which, according to the declarations and de- 
mands of her revolutionary rulers, and of many of our 
own citizens, imposed on the United States obligations 
of everlasting gratitude ! That it was for the purpose 
of securing the independence of the United States that 
France rendered the aid we received from her, is true ; 
but this was solely to weaken her *old adversary, by 
lopping off an important limb. In justification of his 
treating with the Americans, Louis XVI said express- 
ly, that he acted " with no other view than to put an 

* Ellicott's Journal p. 44. 


* end to the predominant power which England abus* 
" ed in every part of the globe ;" and, " tuat the only 
" means of being secured from it, was to seize the op- 
" portunity of diminishing it" That opportunity was 
the war in which we had engaged, to separate the Uni- 
ted States from Great-Britain. The King said further, 
That he formed a connexion with the United States, 
rt able policy, and above all, the secret projects of the 
" Court of London, imperiously laid him under the ne- 
A cessity." The secret projects, of which the French 
government was so apprehensive, were doubtless the 
measures then contemplated by the British govern- 
ment to effect a reconciliation and re-union of the Uni- 
ted States with Great-Britain ; and to defeat them, and 
so to prevent a re-union, was the leading motive to the 
French alliance ; while Americans fondly believed, that 
friendship for than was its basis. And Congress it- 
self, from feeling or POLICY, pronounced Louis the 
Sixteenth, " the PROTECTOR of the RIGHTS of MAN- 
KIND."* Indeed the citizens of the United States, re- 
joiced at the assurance of the aid and co-operation of 
France, thought only of the benefit, without adverting 
to the motives in which it originated. 

During our revolutionary war, and ever since, we 
have been taught to believe that Louis XVI, and his 
Queen, Maria Antoinette, entertained a personal re- 
gard to the United States and their cause. This was 
possible ; and in the glow of our gratitude we cheer- 
fully believed it. But it was unnatural that a mo- 
narchical power, whose will was law, should desire to 
promote the establishment of free republican govern- 
ments. This idea, now so obvious, is shown to be 
correct, by the statement of the fact, in the interesting 
memoirs of Madame Campan, published at Paris since 
the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne of 
France. And we see it strikingly exemplified in the 
avowed principles of the emperors and kings who com* 
pose the so called " Holy Alliance." 

* Resolve Maj 6, 1778, in the journals of Congress. 

The sentiments of the persons who composed thfe 
court of Louis XVI were doubtless similar to those 
manifested by the King and Queen ; but all sacrificed 
their feelings, in regard to republicanism, for the sake 
of humbling their great rival, England. Of all the 
French officers, of name, who served in the United 
States, and returned to France, la Fayette, I believe, 
stands alone, invincibly firm in his original principles, 
for the establishment and maintenance of free govern- 
ments. We have seen the present monarch of France, 
his ministers and armies, by their operations in Spain, 
the last year, violating her independence, and over- 
turning her free government : and who can doubt that 
his brother, Louis XVI, his ministers and armies, un- 
der like circumstances, would have acted the same 
part? And that their aid to the United States, in sup- 
porting their independence, was rendered solely for 
the interest of France, I trust has been satisfactorily 

In the face of all these clear and incontrovertible 
evidences, that the views of France in aiding us in our 
revolutionary contest were exclusively selfish, and that 
she aimed at doing serious injuries to the United States 
in its conclusion, Mr. Jefferson in his letter to Mazzeit 
charged them with " ingratitude and injustice towards 
France" ! He charged the enlightened and eminent 
statesmen and patriots who formed the federal consti- 
tution, and who organized, and were then administer- 
ing, the government under it, as " Anglican-Monarch!* 

* Of the expenditures of France, in the maintenance of troops and ships 
applied directly to our aid, I have no data on which to form an 'stimate ; but 
the capture, plunder, and wanton destruction, of American ships and mer- 
chandise, by the French, have been estimated, by a well informed and judici- 
ous merchant, the late Thomas Fitzsimons of Philadelphia, at fifty millions 
of dollars ; to wit twenty millions under the orders of the Directory and 
their agents, and thirty millions during- the imperial reign of Bonaparte. 
These fifty millions may fairly be set off against the expenditures of France 
directly made by her in the cause of the United States. The loans of money 
by France to the United States were all repaid. The estimates of Mr. Fitz- 
simons were made at my request, and communicated to me by a letter which 
I have not yet found ; but I well remember their amount. 

j- Mazzei, an Italian gentleman, was in Virginia prior to our revolution ; 
and then the apparently intimate acquaintance between him and Mr. Jefferson 
took place. Mazzei returned to Italy. 



u cal-Aristocratic ; whose avowed object it was, to im- 
" pose on the people the substance, as they had already 
" given them the forms, of the British government" 
And, after mentioning various measures of the federal 
government as political " heresies established for the 
"purposes of corruption" he points his reproaches at 
the officers of our government and the members of 
Congress who had embraced them, " the men," he 
says, " who were Solomons in counsel and Samsons in 
" combat, but whose hair had been cut off by the whore 
" England." For this infamous slander, which em- 
braced Washington, Hamilton, and all the eminent 
men who had formed the Constitution, and established 
the measures referred to, Washington, when he be- 
came a private citizen, called Jefferson to account ; 
requiring of him, in a tone of unusual severity, an ex- 
planation of that letter. In what manner the latter 
humbled himself, and appeased the just resentment of 
Washington, will never be known ; as, some time after 
his death, this correspondence was not to be found ; 
and a diary for an important period of his presidency 
was also missing. My information on this subject is 
derived from an authentic source. The late Dr. David 
Stuart, of Virginia, who married the widow of Mrs. 
Washington's son Custis, first mentioned the matter to 
me, twenty years ago ; and five years afterwards, at 
my request, stated the circumstances in detail, in a let- 
ter, with a voluntary "permission to make what use 
" of it I should think proper." A train of occurrences 
within my knowledge would enable me to unravel 
what may seem mysterious in this affair ; but I for- 

Prior to the appearance of Mr. Jefferson's letter to 
Mazzei, " there was," says Dr. Stuart, " a friendly 
" correspondence between him and Washington since 
" then, none" : and " before that letter, he used always 
" either to call on him, when passing by, or to send an 
" apology for not doing it." 

Notwithstanding these lamentations of Mr. Jefferson 
to his friend Mazzei, of palpable deviations from repub- 


lican principles in t\\eform of the Federal Constitution, 
and in the administration of the government, under 
Washington, Hamilton, and the eminent federalists of 
that period in Congress ; yet, after he had gained the 
President's chair, I do not recollect a single amendment 
to that " Anglican-Monarchical-Aristocratic" Consti- 
tution to have been recommended by him ; nor, that 
more than one was made, during his presidency ; and 
that one should have been called an alteration, not an 
amendment. Its object was, by requiring the electors 
to designate the person to whom they gave their votes 
for President, and the one whom they voted for to be 
Vice President, to prevent the recurrence of a contest 
like that between him and Mr. Burr, when the states 
represented in the House were equally divided. And 
as to his measures, I know not any, that related to prin- 
ciples of government, which Mr. Jefferson could pre- 
tend were more republican than those of his predeces- 
sors. As to other principles, I will not say there was 
no difference ; but in regard to them, I content myself 
with remarking, that, during Washington's administra- 
tion, and a part of that of his immediate successor, thera 
were no ostentatious professions of regard to the public 
welfare, nor similar declarations repeated and repeated 
of a desire of settling existing controversies, in an ami- 
cable and friendly manner, with any foreign nation. 

Under Mr. Jefferson's administration, three treaties 
were negotiated with Great Britain. The object of the 
first (negotiated by Mr. King, pursuant to his instruc- 
tions) was, an adjustment of the northwestern bound- 
ary ; but, from an apprehension that its execution 
might derogate from a claim as to the northern boun- 
dary of Louisiana, it was ratified on the part of the 
United States with an exception which defeated the 
treaty. Another, a treaty of amity and commerce with 
Great-Britain, was negotiated by ministers of Mr. Jef- 
ferson's own selection James Monroe and the late 
William Pinkney. These gentlemen, it must be pre- 
sumed, well understood the interests of their country ; 
and no one will question the diligence and faithfulness 


of their endeavours to promote and secure it, in the 
terms of that treaty. They thought the informal ar- 
rangement offered by the British negotiators in whose 
sincerity they saw reason to confide would prove, in 
practice, an adequate protection to our seamen, on 
board American merchant vessels, against impress- 
ment. In reference to that informal arrangement, they 
say, " We persuade ourselves we shall place the busi- 
" ness almost, if not altogether, on as good a footing as 
" we should have done by treaty, had the project which 
" we offered them been adopted."* This treaty, 
however, Mr. Jefferson sent back, without laying it 
before the Senate, although it \vas then in session ; 
because there was not a formal stipulation, by an arti- 
cle in the treaty, against any impressments whatever, 
of seamen on board those vessels : a stipulation which, 
from the experience of the American government, 
during a series of years, he had reason, amounting to 
moral certainty, to believe to be unattainable ; and 
therefore, I infer, he made such a formal stipulation a 
sine qua non. A third treaty he readily ratified. This 
was negotiated by Mr. King, pursuant to Mr. Jeffer- 
son's instructions. Its object was, by a compromise 
with the British government, to put an end to the con- 
troversy concerning the ante-revolution debts due to 
British merchants, and to extinguish the British claims, 
by paying to its government a round sum ; in consid- 
eration of which that government undertook to satisfy 
the demands of its own subjects. This sum was six 
hundred thousand pounds sterling equal to $2,264,000 ; 
which was paid from the treasury of the United States. 
The merchants in the Commercial States were the 
debtors to the British merchants ; and generally speak- 
ing (I always understood) had, prior to Mr. Jay's trea- 

* From different sources I received information, from which it appeared 
clearly, to my apprehension, that with all the parade, kept up for several 
years, of negotiating a treaty of amity and commerce with Great-Britain, Mr. 
Jefferson really desired none. A letter from a friend of his, now before me, 
contains this passage : " I perfectly remember he terminated a conversation 
on this subject, by observing-, that before a treaty could be ratified with Great 
Britain, she might no longer exist as an independent nation." He imagined 
(as I learned from another source) that Great Britain must sink under tb 
weight of her debt, and the arms of Bonaparte, 


ty, paid or compromised their debts, to the satisfaction 
of their British creditors. 

The treaty of peace of 1783 recognized those debts ; 
and the United States stipulated, that no legal impedi- 
ments should be opposed to their recovery : but such 
impediments were opposed ; and that stipulation re- 
mained a dead letter. When, therefore, fresh causes 
of controversy arose, in 1793 and 1794, Washington, 
to prevent a war with Great-Britain, instituted a new 
mission to that government, and appointed Mr. Jay, 
the able and principal negotiator of the treaty of peace 
of 1783, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipoten- 
tiary, to negotiate and by treaty to settle the new con- 
troversies, and those which had arisen from the non- 
execution of some of the articles of the treaty of peace. 
In this negotiation, Mr. Jay honestly renewed, or rath- 
er provided for the due performance of, the original 
stipulation relative to British debts. This, unques- 
tionably, was one thing which contributed to render 
his treaty unpopular, in some parts of the Union ; 
while its terminating the recent controversies which 
hazarded our peace with Great-Britain disappointing 
the vehement haters of that country and at the same 
time ardent lovers of France raised up enemies to its 
ratification, in every part of the Union. It was ratified, 
however, and executed; and procured for our mer- 
chants, who had suffered by British spoliations, indem- 
nities to the amount of more than five millions of dol- 
lars, paid to them by the British government. What 
did they obtain for ten fold more aggravated spolia- 
tions committed on their vessels and merchandise, and 
to ten times that amount, by the Republican and Im- 
perial Governments of France ? Not one cent. 

Every independent American must, I presume, view 
this subject (our relations with France) in the light in 
which I have now placed it ; and be willing, should it 
become necessary, to concur with the only great, free 
and independent nation on earth, besides our own, in 
measures which the interest and welfare of both may 
require, to prevent the re-establishment of despotism 
in th New World, 


That France afforded assistance to the United States, 
in our revolutionary war, exclusively for her own in- 
terest, had long ago been manifested ; and it seems 
impossible that with Mr. Jefferson it should ever have 
been a subject of doubt. But the PEOPLE of the United 
States having unwittingly entertained and steadily 
cherished the contrary opinion, their prejudice was too 
strong to yield even to the force of moral demonstra- 
tion. And the leaders of the opponents of the federal 
administration seized on this honest prejudice in fa- 
vour of France, to obtain popularity ; while by every 
means they excited and promoted opposite sentiments 
towards Great-Britain, which the resentful passions en- 
gendered in the revolutionary war rendered it easy to 
propagate among the people. These prejudices, dili- 
gently cultivated, were among the chief means by 
which Mr. Jefferson and his partisans acquired a pre- 
dominance ; and they may now safely abandon the 
scaffolding by which they rose to power. Still, how- 
ever, for the purpose of enjoying, exclusively, all the 
benefits to be derived from its possession, they con- 
tinue to arrogate to themselves the name of Republi- 
cans ; willing and desirous that their federal opponents 
should, by the people, be deemed aristocrats and mo- 
narchists. Yet to the Federalists are they indebted 
for their republican constitution and republican govern- 
ment ; both of which are now very good things, and 
in their hands quite unexceptionable. Many years 
ago, in the Senate of the United States, I heard the 
most frank, the most bold, and in my opinion the most 
able politician of the, so called, republican party, pro- 
nounce a eulogy on the Constitution, as strong and 
honourable as words could express. And even Mr. 
Jefferson must have entertained the like opinion ; or, 
in conformity with his libellous remarks on it to his 
friend Mazzei, he would have proposed to change its 
features. And now he appears to desire only one al- 
teration to destroy, as I have before remarked, the 
independence of the judges. And having three and 
twenty years ago pronounced the citizens of the Uni- 


ted States, composed of the different political parties, 
44 all republicans, all federalists," it might have been 
expected that by this time, at least, he would be willing 
we should together form one people, one nation, equally 
entitled to, and equally enjoying the advantages to be 
derived from, the government of our common country ; 
but it is not so. In his letter to Lieutenant Governor 
Barry, before mentioned, he affects to doubt (for if he 
fealty doubts he must be a blinder and more narrow 
minded politician than any of his intelligent followers) 
he, I say, affects to doubt whether it would be safe to 
admit federalists into the republican " camp !" that is, 
to admit to a participation of the public offices, the 
men whom he, before the representatives of the nation 
and a numerous assembly of citizens, pronounced, either 
honestly or deceitfully (he may choose which term he 
pleases) to be republicans ! And he desires still to 
foster the spirit of party, by party names ; and, assign- 
ing to his own the name of whigs originally in Eng- 
gland designating the friends of liberty, in opposition 
to the partisans of the tyrannical race of the Stuarts, 
who were called tories he would brand all federalists 
with the latter name, to induce a belief among the peo- 
ple, that federalists are enemies to liberty! What 
federalist can feel a shadow of respect for such a man ? 
If they suppose him sincere in broaching such ideas, 
they must think lightly of his pretensions to wisdom 
as a statesman : insincere, I need not say what senti- 
ment they will feel and express. 

Wailings for the condition of the Catholics of Ire- 
land, so long suffering under the Protestant oppression 
of the English government, have been heard through- 
out the United States. The Dissenters in England are 
Mso oppressed. Both pay tithes to support the Eccle- 
siastics of the Established Church. But what is the 
real condition of Federalists in the United States ? 
How does it differ from that of the Dissenters and Ca- 
tholics in the United Kingdom of Great-Britain ? Fed- 
eralists have long been paying tithes to the established 
Political Clergy of the United States, who exclusively 


enjoy all the benefices. Surely there are many high 
minded, liberal men, among the reigning class, who 
must see this injustice, and be willing to provide a re- 
medy. One such man, elected the Executive Head of 
the NATION, and having in view only the " general 
welfare," and not the continuance of himself in power 
by a re-election, might remove the existing evil, and 
" set the people to rights." For the enjoyment of 
equal rights, Federal Emancipation is as necessary in 
the United States, as Catholic Emancipation is in Ire- 

In stating the preceding facts, and the reflections 
they suggested, in regard to Mr. Jefferson, I have writ- 
ten with the freedom which the occasion seemed to 
require, but without the consciousness of any personal 
animosity. Towards me his deportment has ever been 
marked with urbanity. It is in reference to his con- 
duct and character as a public man, that he is present- 
ed as a just. subject of reproach; such as, on a further 
and full investigation, he will, in my apprehension, ap- 
pear to the future impartial historian of our country. 
The sentiments exhibited in his letter to Lieutenant 
Governor Barry, at this period, I confess I could not 
have expected. That they have excited in me a de- 
gree of indignation, I cannot, nor do I desire to, con- 




THE first eight letters in the " Correspondence" 
were interchanged between Nov. 28, 1803, and March 
15, 1804. After the lapse of four years and a half, ap- 
pears No. IX, dated Sept. 19, 1808, from Cunningham ; 
in which he mentions THE EMBARGO ; and, after " la- 
tt menting that the bitterness of rebuke so often mani- 
" fested towards his son (John Quincy Adams) had 
" been extended to Mr. Adams himself," asks his opi- 
nion " on that public measure, which had so agitated 
" our country," and in producing which his son had 
acted so conspicuous a part. This unlucky question 
was the putting of a match to a mass of combustibles, 
which soon kindled to a flame, and threatened to burn 
me up. 

John Q. Adams and myself were, in 1803, chosen 
by the Legislature of Massachusetts to represent that 
State in the Senate of the United States ; and we took 
our seats there in the session which commenced in 
October of that year. He was then a federalist, and 
for a good while acted in that character. Some cases, 
however, occurred, in which he displayed a zeal in co- 
incidence with the views and wishes of the President, 
Mr. Jefferson. He particularly distinguished himself 
in the attempt to expel from the Senate John Smith of 
Ohio, as one concerned in Aaron Burr's conspiracy, or 
project, whatever it was : for Burr and his accomplices 
were the marked objects of Mr. Jefferson's hatred and 
revenge. There were passages in Mr. Adams's rej ert 
in Smith's case, which outraged, I believe, every dis- 
tinguished lawyer in America. The process of law, 
with its " pace of snail," was too slow for his ven- 
geance. But this by the by. It was the unfortunate 
question of the Embargo, which, in regard tc myself, 
set the ink a-running through President Adams's pen ; 


and it continued running in the whole of his corres- 
pondence, not unmingled with gall. Of the Embargo, 
therefore, it is necessary to give an account. 

The Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, in the prosecu- 
tion of his plan of universal dominion, having overturn- 
ed the Prussian monarchy and resting a little while 
in its capital, Berlin on the 21st of November 1(.;6, 
issued a decree, called the Berlin decree ; whose ob- 
ject was, the destruction of the commerce of Great- 
Britain, his persevering enemy, and the only country 
in Europe (the waters of the sea intervening) which 
his arms could not reach. The decree consisted of 
ten articles* By the first, "The British Islands are de- 
" clared in a state of blockade." By the second, "All 
" commerce and correspondence with the British Isl- 
" ands are prohibited." And by the fifth, " All trade 
" in English merchandise is forbidden ; all merchan- 
" dise belonging to England, or coming from its mariu- 
" factories and colonies, is declared lawful prize."* 

Plain as was the intention of this decree, from the 
words of it, yet an interpretation, indicating an excep- 
tion favourable to the neutral commerce of the United 
States, was given to it, by the French Minister of Ma- 
rine but unsanctioned by the Emperor, or even by 
his Minister for Foreign Affairs, to whose department 
(as the Minister of Marine avowed) the question more 
prooerly belonged. That interpretation, however, 
served to amuse our government willing to be amus- 
ed even when not bearing on its face (to use the 
words of President Adams in another case) "the plau- 
sible appearance of a probability" of its giving the 
real meaning of the decree. At length the time ar- 
rived, when it suited the convenience of the Emperor 
to carry his decree into rigorous execution. The 
commerce of th ' United States with the British do- 
minions was nrobably at that time of as much imped- 
ance to the former, as their commerce with all the w( !d 
besides ; and, as the benefits of a fair commerce r<re 

* Tho whole decree, an-f llv? 'lociMnrnts ronimt^K tc^ \viili it. 1 v the Pre- 
sident, are in the volumes of State Papers, published by Wait and Sons. 


.reciprocal, Great-Britain shared with the United States 
the advantages of that intercourse ; and so far the 
views of the imperial tyrant were obstructed. He 
had long shown himself indifferent to the interests of 
his own commercial subjects : the plunder of conquer- 
ed nations supplied the place of that revenue which 
w r ould accrue from foreign commerce. He, of course, 
would be perfectly regardless of the interests of the 
United States. So the Berlin decree went into full 
operation. The papers on the subject were transmit- 
ted to our government from Paris, by General Arm- 
strong, our minister at the imperial court ; and were 
communicated by the President to Congress, with the 
following message, recommending an 


" To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States. 

" The communications'now made, shewing the great and increas- 
ing dangers with which our vessels, our seamen, and merchand se, 
are threatened on the high seas and elsewhere, from the belligerent 
powers of Europe, and it heing of the greatest importance to keep 
in safety these essential resources, 1 deem it my duty to recommend 
the subject to the consideration of Congress, who will doubtless per- 
ceive all the advantages which may be expected from an inhibition 
of the departure of our vessels from the ports of the United States. 

" Their wisdom will also see the necessity of making every prepa- 
ration for whatever events may grow out of the present crisis. 

u / ask a return of the tetters of Messrs. Armstrong and Champagny^ 
which it would be improper to make public" 

"Dec. 18, 1807. TH: JEFFERSON." 

The last paragraph of the message (in Italics) is 
omitted in the copy in the State Papers, as well as in 
the Journal of the Senate ; but is retained in the Jour- 
nal of the House of Representatives. It was, on a for- 
mal motion in the Senate, ordered not to be entered on 
their Journal. I cannot assign, for I do not recollect, 
any reason for it. Possibly the mover felt some deli- 
cacy on the subject, after voting for the law recommend- 
ed in the message ; seeing a part of the documents, on 
which it was avowedly founded, were ivithdrawn ; and 
so far the basis of his vote was taken away. 

No. 1. Was a proclamation, dated Oct. 16, 1807, by 
the King of Great-Britain, requiring his " natural born 


subjects, seafaring men," serving in foreign vessels, ta 
return home, according to their duty and allegiance, to 
defend their own country, then menaced and endanger- 
ed, from the arms of France and of the nations subject- 
ed to her power, whom she honoured with the name of 
allies. Such proclamations are common among nations 
engaged in war ; and no well-informed man will, I pre- 
sume, dispute their justness. And because it was known 
that numbers of such seamen did continue to serve in 
foreign vessels, British naval officers were required to 
take and bring away all such persons who should be 
found serving in any foreign merchant vessel ; but with 
a special injunction to offer no violence to such vessel^ 
or to the remainder of the crew. 

No. 2. Was an extract of a letter, dated Sept. 18, 
1807, from the French Grand Judge, Minister of Jus- 
tice, to the Imperial Advocate General for the Council 
of Prizes. It was an answer to some questions which 
concerned the execution of the Berlin decree. 

" 1st. May vessels of war, by virtue of the imperial 
" decree of the 21st of November last, seize, on board 
" neutral vessels, either English property, or even all 
" merchandise proceeding from the English manufac- 
" tories or territory ?" 

" Answer. His Majesty has intimated, that as he 
" did not think proper to express any exception in his 
" decree, there is no ground for making any in its exe- 
" cution, in relation to any whomsoever." 

" 2. His Majesty has postponed a decision on the 
" question, Whether armed French vessels ought to 
" capture neutral vessels bound to or from England. 
" even when they have no English merchandise on 
" board." (Signed) " REGNIER." 

Of these two papers no secret was made ; and for a 
plain reason ; the British proclamation had many days 
before been published in the newspapers. The copy 
laid by Mr. Jefferson before the Seriate had been cut 
out of a newspaper a form not the most respectful, 
of a document laid before the Legislature of the United 
States, by their President. In like manner, the sub- 


stance, if not the words, of the Grand Judge Regnier's 
letter had been published. But these two papers had 
excited little, if any, concern among those most inter- 
ested our merchants and seafaring people : they saw, 
in the proclamation, not an increased, but a diminished 
danger of impressments ; and French cruisers on the 
seas were then few in number. 

The third paper was a letter, dated Sept. 24, 1807, 
from General Armstrong to the French Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, Champagny ; asking him, whether the 
report he had just heard was true "that a new and 
" extended construction, highly injurious to the com- 
" merce of the United States, was about to be given to 
" the Imperial decree of the 21st of November 1806" 
(the Berlin decree.) 

The fourth document was Champagny's answer to 
Armstrong, bearing date Oct. 7, 1807, and which, with 
a little difference in the phraseology, is the same with 
that of the Grand Judge Regnier, before mentioned, to 
the Imperial Advocate General ; from whom, indeed, 
Champagny says he received the explanation. These 
are his words : " His Majesty has considered every 
" neutral vessel, going from English ports, with car- 
" goes of English merchandise, or of English origin, as 
" lawfully seized by French armed vessels." 

Here an obvious question presents itself. Seeing 
Armstrong's letter simply asks the question, whether 
his information about the Berlin decree was correct 
and Champagny's answer tells him that it was why 
did Mr. Jefferson ask a return* of these two papers, 
saying, " it would be improper to make them public" ? 
The solution may be found in the last paragraph of 
Champagny's letter, in which he says, " The decree of 
" blockade has now been issued eleven months. The 
" principal powers of Europe, [meaning Holland, Spain, 
" and the other powers which the arms of France had 
" subjected to her control] far from protesting against 
u its provisions, have adopted them. They have per- 
" ceived that its execution must be COMPLETE to render it 
" more effectual" The commerce of the United States 


surpassed that of all the other neutral nations ; and 
with the British dominions was very extensive, aLd of 
vast importance to both. To render the blockade of 
the British islands " complete," the commerce of neu- 
trals with them must cease. This object, in respect to 
the United States, could be accomplished only by an 
Embargo. In four days after the arrival at Washing- 
ton of Armstrong's despatches by the Revenge, con- 
taining the letters of the Grand Judge and Bonaparte's 
Minister Champagny, Mr. Jefferson recommended his 
Unlimited Embargo.* One more fact : On the 8th 
of February 1808 (less than two months after the 
passing of the embargo law) the Secretary of State, 
Mr. Madison, in his letter to General Armstrong, on 
this subject, says, " The conduct of the French eo- 
" vernment, in giving this extended operation to its fle- 
" cree, and indeed in issuing one with such an appa- 
" rent or doubtful import against the rights of the sea, 
" is the more extraordinary, inasmuch as the inability 
" to enforce it on that element, exhibited the measure 

" in the light of an EMPTY MENACED So then, Mr. 

Jefferson's Embargo, which prostrated our 
commerce, which ruined many, and seriously injured 

* The following- extract, recently found among- my papers, of a letter, dated 
January 2, 1808 (eleven days aftei the embargo law had passed) from a 
renpt ctable gentleman in New- York to his father, a member of Congress at 
Washing-ton, merits attention. 

" It is said, and from correct sources, that Mr. Armstrong- gave notice, in 
*' Amsterdam, that a g-eneral embarg-o would take place in the United States 
" immediately on the arrival of the Revenge ; and that, in one day, sugar rose 
" from 13 to 19 dollars, and coffee from 21 to 27 stivers, in consequence of 
*' that information." 

The Revenge arrived at New- York. The bearer of the despatches was 
Dr. Bullus, surgeon to the marine corps. New-York papers announced her 
arrival, and, among other articles of news, stated this that the French Em- 
peror said there should be no neutrals. I did not doubt the truth of the report ; 
but, not having the evidence of the fact, in my first letter to Gov. Sullivan, 
Feb. 16, 1808, on the embargo, I merely asked the question, " Has the French 
Emperor declared that he will have no neutrals?" J. Q,. Adams, in his letter 
to Mr. Otis, dated the following 31st of March, roundly affirmed, that "The 
French Emperor had npt declared that he would have no neutrals." Yet it 
afterwards appeared that Gen. Armstrong officially communicated the Em- 
peror's declaration, " That the Americans should be compelled to take the po- 
sitive character of either allies or mtmies ;" that is, they should not be neu- 

t State Papers, vol. 1808-9, page 232. 


all, of our citizens, was founded on an empty menace ! I 
now leave every intelligent reader to judge, whether 
the real object of the Embargo was, " to keep in safety 
" >ar vessels arid merchandise," or, to render the 
French Emperor's decree of blockade of the British 
islands " complete." To him, it is certain, the Em- 
bargo was acceptable; he passed a decree to en- 
force its execution. And at a subsequent period (Au- 
gust 5, 1810) his minister informed Gen. Armstrong, 
that " the Emperor applauded the Embargo." 

Such were the grounds, or pretexts, for the Embar- 
go. The President's message, and the four papers ac- 
companying it, were referred to a committee, of whom 
John Q. Adams was one. In a short time they re- 
ported a bill for laying an Embargo. It was read 
once. A motion made to read it, immediately, a 
second time, was objected to ; it was repugnant to a 
standing rule of the Senate, wisely formed, to prevent 
hasty decisions. To remove this difficulty, the Senate, 
on a motion for the purpose, " Resolved, That so much 
" of the 12th rule for doing business in the Senate, as 
" requires that three readings shall be on three diffe- 
" rent days, unless the Senate unanimously direct other- 
" wise, be suspended for three days." The bill was 
then read a second time, as in committee of the whole, 
and reported to the House without amendment. Then 
the bill (having been quickly engrossed) was read a 
third time, and passed yeas 22, na} r s 6. Those who 
voted in the negative were 

Messrs. Crawford, Maclay, 

Goodrich, Pickering, 

Hillhouse, White. 

The time occupied in this business, from the recep- 
tion of the President's message, to the passing of the 
bill, was about four hours. lit was Friday. A motion 
was made to postpone the further consideration of the 
bill until the next Monday : It passed in the negative. 
On motion of Mr. Crawford, That the bill be post- 
poned till the next day, it passed in the negative, yeas 
12, nays 16. Mr. Adams was among the nays. No 


fciember of the Senate displayed equal zeal for the 
passing of the bill. In opposing a postponement, to 
obtain further information, and to consider a measure 
of such moment, of such universal concern, Mr. Adams 
made this memorable declaration : " The President has 
" recommended the measure on his high responsibili- 
ty : / would not consider / would not deliberate : I 
" would act. Doubtless the PRESIDENT possesses such 
" further information as will justify the measure" ! 
This sentiment was so extraordinary, that I instantly 
wrote it down. It shocked even Mr. Jefferson's de- 
voted partisans. " However I may vote, (a member 
was heard to remark) that is too much for me to say" 
For my own part, I originally viewed, and I still view, 
the sentiment as so abhorrent to the principles of 
a free government, so derogatory to the character of a 
member of Congress, such a dereliction of duty, and 
so disgraceful to a man of sense, that I am incapable 
of conceiving of any counterbalance in official honours 
and emoluments. An embassy, a judgeship, or the 
presidency, to an honourable and independent mind, 
would, in the comparison, be " as a drop in the buck- 
" et arid the small dust of the balance." Upon the 
principle advanced by J. Q. Adams, what becomes of 
the " checks and balances," which are the pillars of 
his father's " Great Work" (as it has been called) on 
the American Constitutions of Government ? By the 
Constitution of the United States, the Senate and 
House of Representatives were intended as checks on 
the acts of each other, and both as checks on those of 
the President. The sentiment expressed by Mr. Ad- 
ams resolves the whole business of legislation into 
the will of the Executive. 

The bill, passed by the Senate, was immediately 
sent to the House of Representatives. There it was 
long and earnestly contested ; arid did not pass until 
Tuesday, the 22d of December. On the same day it 
received the President's approbation, and became a 

In the year 1807, the registered tonnage of the Um- 


te$ States, employed in foreign trade, amounted to 
848,306 tons. Of this, Massachusetts owned 310,309 
tons, almost equal to the united tonnage of the three 
states of New-York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, which 
amounted only to 322,836 tons. That vast quantity of 
shipping belonging to Massachusetts, giving employ- 
ment to many thousands of her citizens on the water 
and on the land, was to be laid waste by the Embargo, 
unlimited in its duration, and contemplated, I have not 
a shadow of doubt, by its author, to endure as long as 
the war between France and Great-Britain should con- 

Seeing then, as every impartial reader will now see 
and acknowledge, that the reasons, presented to Con- 
gress for imposing the Embargo, were but shallow 
pretences, and, as resting on the Berlin decree, amount- 
ed, according to Mr. Madison, only to " an empty me* 
nace ;" and as, according to J. Q. Adams (as will pre* 
sentlybe shown) the four papers laid before Congress, 
containing Mr. Jefferson's reasons for recommending 
an Embargo, were but four " naughts ;" and viewing 
with horror and indignation its destructive effects ; I 
thought it to be my duty to give to the greatest navi- 
gating State in the Union, which I in part represent- 
ed, such information concerning it as was in my power; 
that the State might take such measures to obtain a 
removal of the evil as her wisdom should direct. For 
this purpose, I wrote a long letter, dated the 16th 
of February 1808, to Mr. Sullivan, Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts, to be laid before the Legislature, then in 
session ; and through that channel to pass to all my 
fellow-citizens. But, from a knowledge of his party 
politics, apprehensive that my object would not be 
obtained through him, I sent a copy to my excel- 
lent friend, the lately deceased George Cabot a man 
of so enlightened a mind, of such wisdom, virtue and 
piety, that one must travel far, very far, to find his 
equal. After waiting a few days, finding that the ori- 
ginal was not communicated to the Legislature, Mr. Ca- 
bot sent the copy to a printer. It first appeared in a 
. small pamphlet; and, being re-published in pamphlets 


and newspapers, was soon spread over the United 
States. In this letter I neither named nor alluded to 
my colleague, J. Q. Adams. 

The Governor refused to communicate my letter to 
the Legislature. He sent it back to me, in a letter of 
rebuke, for my expecting him to make such a commu- 
nication. In my reply, justifying the step I had taken, 
I said, " I confess there seemed to be a peculiar fitness 
" in a Senator's addressing the Legislature from whom 
" he immediately derives his appointment. And in the 
" present case, seeing my letter embraced the highest 
" concerns of our country, in which Massachusetts 
" holds so large a stake, especially in a commercial 
" point of view, I could not imagine that I w r as offend- 
" ing her chief magistrate, in presenting a view of those 
" concerns to him, to be afterwards laid before the Le- 
" gislature." This reply was dated the 9th of March. 
On the 18th, the Governor wrote me a long, but not 
very courteous, letter. My answer, not destitute of re- 
ciprocity, was still longer ; and, in the estimation of 
my friends in Boston, who caused it to be printed, was, 
in all respects, a complete vindication. The last para- 
graph in the Governor's letter contained these words : 
" Mr. Adams, your colleague, is quite opposed to you 
" in his opinion of the embargo. He voted for it, and 
" still considers it as a wise measure, and as a necessa- 
" ry one. I have his letters before me upon it." In 
answer to this, I say, " True he did vote for the em- 
" bargo ; and I must now tell your Excellency how he 
" advocated that measure. It is not willingly, sir, that 
" I speak of him in an address to the public. Though 
" often opposed in opinion, on national measures, there 
" has never existed for a moment any personal diffe- 
" rence between us. But as you have now contrasted 
" his opinion with mine, to invalidate my public state- 
" ments, you compel me to relate the fact. 

" In my first letter I informed your Excellency of 
" the haste with which the embargo bill was passed in 
" the Senate. I also informed you that a 'little more 
" time was repeatedly asked, to obtain further infor- 


* 6 mation, and to consider a measure of such moment, 
M of such universal concern ; but that those requests 
" were denied ;' and I must now add, by .no one more 
" zealously, than by Mr. Adams, my colleague. , Hear 
" his words. But even your Excellency's strong faith 
" in the President's supreme wisdom may pause, while 
" independent men will be shocked, at the answer of 
" my colleague to those requests. ' The President (said 
" he) has recommended the measure on his high re- 
%t sponsibility : I would not consider I would not deli- 
" berate : I would act. Doubtless the President pos- 
" sesses such further information as will justify the 
" measure' ! Need I give to your Excellency any 
" other proof (though other proof abounds) of 4 blind 
" confidence in our rulers T Need I give further evi- 
" dence of 4 the dangerous extent of Executive iriflu- 
" ence ?' When the people of Massachusetts see a 
" man, of Mr. Adams's acknowledged abilities and learn- 
" ing, advancing such sentiments ; when they see a 
" man, of his knowledge of the nature of all govern- 
" ments, and of his intimate acquaintance with our own 
" free republican government, and of the rights and 
" duties of the legislature ; especially of their right and 
" duty to consider, to deliberate, and, according to their 
" own judgment, independently of Executive plea- 
" sure, to decide on every public measure ; when, I 
" say, the people of Massachusetts see this, will they 
" wonder if a majority in Congress should be over- 
" whelmed by the authority of Executive recommen- 
" dations ? And had I not reason to be alarmed 
" ' at the dangerous extent of Executive influence,' 
" which to me appeared to be leading the public mind, 
" by its blind confidence, to public ruin ?" 

The reader has now the whole of what was written 
and published concerning J. Q. Adams, in my corre- 
spondence with Governor Sullivan ; and it is to this 
that President Adams refers, when, after a page of vi- 
rulent abuse, he says, " He [Pickering] broke out at 
" last in a rage, and threw a firebrand into our Massa- 
* chusetts legislature against his colleague. The stub- 


" bie was dry, and the flame easily took hold."* Mr, 
Adams, accustomed to let loose his violent passions^ 
mistakes the rage burning in his own breast, for a 
flame which he fancies that he sees lighted up in the 
bosom of the person he is intemperately reviling. 

In a preceding letter (XIV) dated Nov. 7, 1808, Mr. 
Adams has been pleased to describe me in the follow- 
ing words : u The gentleman has wreaked his revenge 
" on ray son, in letters which shew the character of the 
" man bitter and malignant, ignorant and Jesuitical. His 
" revenge has been sweet, and he has rolled it as a de- 
" licious morsel under his tongue." To this reproach 
I disdain to offer a contradiction. If the reader can find 
any ground for it, in the foregoing extracts from my last 
letter to Governor Sullivan (for, as I have said already, 
it was in that letter only that I named or alluded to his 
son) then let the reproach fasten upon me. 

Here is the source of the father's wrath. In my cor- 
respondence with Governor Sullivan, I was constrained 
to state, in the manner before mentioned, a fact which 
occurred in the Senate of the United States, in order 
to justify my own vote against the embargo, contrary 
to the vote of my colleague, J. Q. Adams, on the same 
question. Of the character of that fact, every reader 
will judge. I have given my own sense of it. If the 
fact was honourable to his son, why should the father's 
wrath be kindled against me for stating it ? That it 
has been kindled, and into a flame, his whole corre- 
spondence with Cunningham affords demonstrative 
proof. What is the obvious inference ? That, in his 
opinion, the fact recited was dishonourable to his son. 

In his letter to Mr. Otis, Mr. J. Q. Adams intimates 
a reproach to me for spending my time, when a sena- 
tor, in writing the letter to Governor Sullivan ; while 
he was assiduously devoted to his senatorial duties. 
But where was his regard to his duty as a legislator for 
the Union, in advocating and voting for a law which 
paralysed all the business of the nation ; when, by his 
o*wn admission, it had only four ciphers for its basis ? 

* Letter XVU, to Cunning-ham, 


Where was his attention to the rights and interests of 
his constituents of Massachusetts, when his utmost ex- 
ertions were made to impose that law upon them ? a 
law deceptively called an Embargo ; which is a mea- 
sure sometimes adopted for an important national ob- 
ject, of a temporary nature : but the law in question 
was without limitation. The law was general in its 
terms, interdicting our commerce with all nations : it 
would not have been convenient to discriminate : but, 
accurately speaking, its title should have been ' An 
Act to prohibit all commerce with Great-Britain and 
her dominions/ .Whether!. Q. Adams really perform- 
ed his duty in thus advocating and voting for the em- 
bargo or abandoned it ; whether he guarded the inte- 
rests of his constituents of Massachusetts, or betrayed 
them, the reader can now form a pretty correct opin- 
ion : but, if he will accompany me as I proceed, he will 
see the latter completely established. 

I proceed with the Embargo ; though I fear the 
reader will be as weary of the details concerning it, as 
the people of the United States were of the embargo 
itself, when they threw the intolerable load from their 
shoulders. I pray for the reader's patience a little 

My first letter to Governor Sullivan, giving an ac- 
count of the embargo exposing it stripped of the dis- 
guise which concealed its deformity was opening the 
eyes of the people, to see the delusion practised upon 
them. The administration stood in need of justifica- 
tion ; and J. Q. Adams stepped forth as its champion. 
The zeal of new converts is proverbial. The justifica- 
tion was in the form of a letter, addressed, nominally, 
to Harrison Gray Otis. In this letter, Mr. Adams took 
new ground on which to rest the embargo ; the British 
Orders in Council, of the llth of November 1807 
issued to retaliate the French Emperor's Berlin de- 
cree. As the latter interdicted the commerce of neu- 
tral nations with the British islands which in its exe- 
cution was extended to all the British dominions its 
object, as already observed, being to ruin the com- 


merce of Britain, as an essential source of that revenue 
which enabled her to contend successfully with France ; 
so the Orders in Council interdicted the commerce of 
neutrals with France and her allies and their depen- 
eies, and with all other countries, under the control of 
France, whose ports were shut against British com- 
merce ; with the exception, however, of a direct trade 
between neutral nations and the colonies of the ene- 
mies of Great-Britain. Mr. Adams describes these or- 
ders as " studiously concealed until the moment when 
" they burst upon our heads" Whereas our govern- 
ment was apprised, by the British Secretary of State 
(Lord Howick) soon after the Berlin decree was issu- 
ed, that measures of retaliation would be necessary, on 
the part of Great-Britain. The first was a prohibition 
of the coasting trade carried on by neutral vessels, 
from one port to another of France and her allies ; and 
notice thereof was immediately given to our Minister 
in London. This was on the 10th of January 1807. 
But the French Emperor continuing his Berlin decree, 
and in September, in that year, directing its execution, 
without any exception of the nations affected by it, the 
British government, having waited almost a year, and 
no neutral nation having offered any efficient interpo- 
sition to obtain a repeal of the Berlin decree, made and 
proclaimed the retaliating Orders in Council of No- 
vember llth, 1807. 

Perhaps it may be asked, How could any of the na- 
tions then neutral, the United States for instance, the 
principal neutral power, interpose, with effect, to ob- 
tain a revocation of the Berlin decree ? The answer 
is obvious. That decree was such a monstrous stride 
in imperial tyranny, so atrocious a violation of our trea- 
ty with France (a treaty made with Bonaparte himself 
when first consul) such an outrage on the law of na- 
tions, that all commerce with that country, and with 
her allies and dependencies, might have been prohi- 
bited, and the prohibition effectually enforced; while 
our commerce would have been protected against the 
small naval power of France. The American navy. 

with the requisite increase then in our power, woulct 
soon have been completely competent to that object : 
not Mr. Jefferson's contemptible gun-boat system ; the 
expenditures on which were enough to have built a 
squadron of frigates. And had he possessed any por- 
tion of the spirit manifested by President Adams and 
the Congress of 1798, such a resistance would have 
been made.* But nothing was more remote from Mr. 
Jefferson's policy than such resistance ; while it was 
the only measure which could have had a tendency to 
effect a revocation of the decree. Or, if the pride and 
obstinacy of the Emperor should have caused him to 
persevere, at least our commerce would have been 
protected. Whereas the timid subserviency of our go- 
vernment naturally invited the Emperor to persist in 
his scheme of universal plunder. And the delusive 
hopes which the actual conduct of our government ex- 
cited among the people, enticed them to hazard their 
property on the seas, and even to enter the ports of 
France and her allies ; thus rushing into the mouths 
of the sharks which the decrees of Bonaparte had 
opened to devour them. 

The British Orders in Council, of which every body 
has heard, were not, like French decrees, put in in- 
stant execution, " without a moment's warning :" they 
were not " pounced" upon all neutral commerce. 
Time was allowed for neutrals to receive information 
of them, before their vessels would be subjected to 
their operation. These were the Orders which J. Q. 
Adams has said " stood in front of the real causes of 
" the embargo." " To argue (said he) upon the sub- 
" ject of our disputes with Great-Britain, or upon the 
"motives for the embargo, and keep them out of sight L , 
" is like laying your finger over the unit before a se- 
" ries of naughts, and then arithmetically proving that 

* To protect our commerce in 1798, all commerce with France and her 
dominions was prohibited. Our armed vessels were instructed to capture all 
French armed vessels. Our merchant vessels were permitted to arm in their 
own defence. Vigorous measures were adopted to inorc.ise our vessels of 
war. And all our treaties with France, grossly violated by her, were declar 
ed void. 


<; they all amount to nothing." Now I will show, that 
when the embargo was recommended, and when the 
bill passed in the Senate, those Orders in Council were, 
in fact, out of sight of the President out of sight of 
the Secretary of State out of sight of the Senate 
and out of sight of Mr. Adams himself. 

1. Mr. Jefferson, together with his message recom- 
mending an embargo, sent to Congress the four papers 
I have already described ; saying,, that those papers 
showed the great and increasing dangers to our vessels, 
our seamen and merchandise ; against which he ex- 
pected the wisdom of Congress would provide. And, 
far from placing the Orders in Council in front of the 
causes for the embargo, there is not the slightest rea- 
son to believe that he thought of their existence. On 
the contrary, forty-six days afterwards, viz. in his mes- 
sage to Congress, of February 2, 1808,* laying before 
them the Orders in Council, he says, " I transmit them 
tft to Congress as a farther proof of the increasing dan- 
" gers to our navigation and commerce, which led to 
*' the provident measure of the act of the present ses- 
** sion, laying an embargo on our own vessels." 

2. Mr. Madison, in his letter of December 23, 1807t 
the day after the embargo law was enacted to Wil- 
liam Pinkney, our minister in London, says, "I enclose 
" you a copy of a message from the President to Con- 
" gress, and their act in pursuance of it, laying an irn- 
" mediate embargo on our vessels and exports. The 
"policy and the causes of the measure are explained 
" in the message itself." But Mr. Madison, like Mr. 
Adams, was afterwards willing to drag in the Orders 
in Council to bolster up that mischievous measure. 
Accordingly, in his next letter to Mr. Pinkney, dated 
Feb. 19, 1808, Mr. Madison says, "My last, which was 
" committed to the British packet, enclosed a copy of 
"the act of embargo, and explained the policy of the 
"measure;" leaving out "causes." More cautkus, 
however, than Mr. Adams, or having a better memory? 

L -LFJ.A* JL -B_va.i*'j..a.XkJa \s tv\,-u*s VM e'tw *-v *-> 

* State Papers, vol. 1806-8, p. 263. 
f State Papers, vol. 1808-9, p. 260. 


he does not venture to assign the Orders in Council as 
a cause of the embargo ; much less to place them " in 
"front of the real causes of the embargo ;" but contents 
himself with saying, that " among the considerations 
*' which enforced it, was the probability of such de- 
" crees as were issued by the British government, on 
" the llth of November ; the language of the British ga- 
" zettes, with other indications, having left little doubt 
" that such were meditated." But these were after 
thoughts, the expression of which does no honour to Mr. 
Madison ; as they bear an insinuation, that those ru- 
mours of British orders were among the motives which 
influenced the President to recommend an embargo ; 
which he knew was not the case. 

3. I have said, that as to J. Q. Adams himself, the 
Orders in Council were out of sight, when he zealously 
advocated and voted for the embargo. This is a plain 
inference from the facts I have already stated. When 
hard pressed for adequate causes for the embargo, and 
not finding them in the four documents communicated 
with the message, Mr. Adams, it will be recollected, 
had recourse to the President's highly responsible re- 
commendation of the measure, a*nd the possible wfor* 
mation locked up in his bosom, to justify the passage 
of the law. Now, if the Orders in Council furnished 
the great and prominent cause for the embargo, and 
if, compared with them, the four papers assigned by 
the President as the only causes for an embargo were 
but four " naughts ;" is it possible that " those all-de- 
vouring instruments of rapine," as Mr. Adams calls 
the Orders in Council, should never have risen in their 
terrific forms to his view ? that he should not have so 
presented them to the view of the Senate? and that 
they should not have caused him to pour forth a deluge, 
of his appalling metaphors, in describing them ? 1 he- 
sitate not to pronounce it impossible. " Out of the 
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Should 
he assert the contrary, no man of common understand- 
ing can believe him. At all events, it is clear, from 
the President's first message and documents, and from 


the quotations already made from his next message, 
and from Mr. Madison's letters, that neither Mr. Jefier- 
son nor he had the Orders in Council in their minds, 
when assigning and mentioning the causes of the em- 

4. It is equally clear, that no other Senator, in vot- 
ing for the embargo, contemplated the Orders in Coun- 
cil, because no one adverted to them in the discussion. 

I now consider it as demonstrated, that Mr. Jeffer- 
son's embargo was not recommended by him, " to keep 
" in safety our vessels, our seamen and our merchan- 
" dise." And as no man who thinks at all does any 
act of consequence without a motive, and as I am inca- 
pable of discerning any other, I do not hesitate to say, 
that its object was a co-operation with the French Fm- 
peror, to diminish, and as far as possible to destroy, 
the commerce of Great-Britain ; and thereby compel 
her at least to make peace, if not absolutely to sub- 
ject her to the control of the imperial conqueror ; when 
it was apparent that the object of his ambition was uni- 
versal empire. I add, that the mischievous measure I 
have been exposing was not an embargo, but an abso- 
lute prohibition of commerce, and therefore a violation 
of the Constitution : for the power given to Congress 
to regulate, cannot be construed to authorize the anni- 
hilation of commerce : but such was the nature, and 
such would have been the effect, of this perpetual law 
peroetual in its terms if the people of the United 
States had tamely continued to submit to it. But they 
w uld not submit ; and Congress were obliged to repeal 
it. The commercial part of our nation considered the 
Berlin decree, and the still more outrageous one issued 
at Milan, with the British orders in council, superadd- 
ed, as less injurious than Mr. Jefferson's edict called an 
Embargo : and all those decrees and orders continued 
in force, when the embargo law was repealed. 

I have but one more fact to state on this subject : 
it is this that on his first hearing the news of the 
embargo, President Mams earnestly condemned it. 
But he did not then know that his son had voted for it, 


-and was its most strenuous advocate : that son, of 
whom he said, there was not an honester or abler man 
in the United States.* When afterwards he learned 
what a conspicuous part his son had acted in favour of 
the embargo, he also thought it a wise measure. He 
even doubted whether it ought to have been limited ! 
He says, " The policy of a limitation to the embargo 
" is, in a national view, and on a large scale, a nice 
" question, "t That a man of his strong understanding, 
extensive knowledge, and great experience, when judg- 
ing with an unbiassed mind, should have condemned 
the embargo especially an embargo of unlimited 
duration was perfectly natural ; and, but for the agen- 
cy of his son J. Q. Adams in imposing it, and his con- 
tinuing joined to the dominant party, he would never 
have ceased to condemn it. Then, too, I might have 
been exempted from his calumnies : for it was my in- 
voluntary exhibition of his son's conduct about the 
embargo, that kindled the father's wrath against me ; 
which, in the effervescence of his foaming passions, 
threw up that foul scum which is spread over all his 
letters where my name is mentioned. 

The immense importance ascribed by Mr. Adams to 
his son, John Quincy, induces me to state that, hav- 
ing received a law education, he commenced the prac- 
tice of it in Boston; but soon (in 1794) when his 
father was Vice-President, he was appointed Minister 
Resident of the United States to the States of Holland 
His father places this first step in diplomacy to the 
account of Washington's gratitude for the son's rescu- 

* Letter to Cunning-ham, No. XLIII, dated July 31, 1809. J. Q. Adams was 
then on the point of departure from Boston, bound to Russia, as minister ple- 
nipotentiary from the United States. " I hope," says the father, " his absence 
" will not be long-. Aristides is banished because he is too just. HE WILL 


confusion of ideas. To the inclement region of Siberia in Russia, her despots 
have been accustomed to banish offending- subjects. Aristides the just was 
driven into banishment by the votes of his fickle fellow citizens. J. Q. Adams 
voluntarily accepted of the mission to Russia. It was his first reward for aban- 
doning- the cause of federalism, and his father's and his own original principles. 
He perceived " there was no getting along, or being any thing, without popu- 
larity ;" and the path to popularity was that opened by Mr, Jefferson then 
the idol of the people : his measures must bo supported, 
f Letter X, to Cunningham, p. 29. 


ing the government from the overwhelming flood of 
democratic fanaticism, raised in the preceding year by 
the rail ence or proceedings of Monsieur Genet, Minis- 
ter from the French Republic. " John Quincy Adams's 
" writings (says his father) first turned this tide." 
" Not all Washington's ministers, Hamilton and Pick- 
" ering included, could have written those papers, which 
" were so fatal to Genet. Washington saw it, and felt 
" his obligations."* 

Mr. Adams's overweening opinion of his son's ta- 
lents, and his raging enmit} 7 to others, makes him for- 
get and confound times and facts. I had then nothing 
to do with the cabinet. The general post-office was 
my department. But Mr. Jefferson was at that time 
(1793) Secretary of State; and he has always been re- 
puted to possess certain talents, some knowledge of 
public law and of foreign affairs, and a familiar ac- 
quaintance with the rights and duties of ministers ; 
having himself been minister from the United States 
to the Court of France, from the year 1785 to 1789. 
And being Secretary of State, it was his special duty 
to enter the lists with Mr. Genet ; but he shrunk, it 
seems, from the fearful task. Alexander Hamilton, 
too, then Secretary of the Treasury, was believed to 
be a man of understanding, with a capacity to manifest 
its strength on paper. Even at the age of eighteen, 
he encountered successfully the most powerful tory 
advocates of British taxation. But what of all this ? 
Mr. Adams represents Alexander Hamilton at one time 
as not possessing a particle of common sense ; at ano- 
ther, as an ignoramus ; and that, in a certain conversa- 
tion with him, "he talked like a fool ;" and at length 
sinks him even below Elbridge Gerry ! Yes Elbridge 
Gerry was Alexander Hamilton's master in finance !t 

In this state of terror and dismay, when all Wash- 
ington's ministers trembled at the sight of the French 
Leviathan, forth stepped a youthful champion, son of 

* Letter XII, dated Oct. 15, 1808, to Cunningham. 

| See Mr. Adams's Letter, No. XIII, May 29, 1809, published in the Bos- 
ton Patriot ; an extract from which will be inserted in the section concerning 


the venerable sage of Quincy, and (like the stripling 
son of Jesse who slew the Philistine giant) " put a 
hook in his nose." 

It w T ill be impossible to doubt of the persuasive mo- 
tives that influenced John Q. Adams to desert the 
cause, policy and principles of federalists, and join 
himself to their adversaries. In addition to what I 
have already stated, look at the following facts. 

In a little more than a year after turning out as the 
champion for the embargo, to wit, on the 4th of March 
180;), Mr. Madison (it being the first day of ly's presi- 
dency) nominated J. Q. Adams Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary to the Court of the Emperor of Russia. The 
Senate put their negative on the nomination. But Mr. 
Madison, having called a special meeting of Congress 
in the following May, repeated the nomination ; and y 
by a change in some votes, the nomination w r as ap- 
proved. Mr. Adams was next appointed Minister 
Plenipotentiary to the Court of London ; then one of 
the Commissioners for negotiating a peace with Great- 
Britain ; and, in the last place, Secretary of State. 
There is but one more step in the ladder of ambition ; 
and there are not wanting partisans to aid him in the 
ascent so far as perpetual eulogies can give him aid. 
His abilities and learning have been highly extolled. 
His father possessed the same qualifications. But 
something more is requisite in the character of a safe 
and useful President. Whose passions, of the two, 
are the most violent, it may be difficult to decide. 
Those of the son may, perhaps, be managed with the 
most discretion : from the father's errors he may have 
learned some degree of caution. But his review of 
the works of Fisher Ames, one of the most able, ex- 
cellent and amiable of men and his last fourth of July 
oration exhibit a temper which no candid, liberal and 
honourable mind would indulge. In both are mani- 
fested a rancour alike unbecoming a gentleman, a 
statesman and a Christian. Of what value are profes- 
sions, without the spirit, of Christianity ? In vain will 
you search for this spirit in the conduct of either father 


or son. In what part of the gospel did the latter find 
a warrant for him to throw the bolts of Heaven ? 
Where, to authorize him to interpret the events of 
Providence, as the special judicial acts of the Deity, 
applied to individual sufferers ? In his oration, he has 
the boldness to ascribe the insanity of George the Third 
to the judgment of Heaven ; to consider his insanity 
the most deplorable malady incident to suffering hu- 
manity ; an affliction, the bare idea of which would 
melt any but the most obdurate heart as a punish- 
ment inflicted by God, for the evils experienced by the 
Colonies in his reign, from the oppressive acts of par- 
liament, and the consequent American war. " Suppose 
" ye that those Galileans (whose blood Pilate had 
" mingled with their sacrifices) were sinners above all 
" the Galileans, because they suffered such things ? I 
" tell you, Nay :" " Or those eighteen on whom the 
" tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that 
u they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jeru- 
" salem ? I tell you, Nay." These words have an 
authority which J. Q. Adams will not controvert. His 
father, more placable, has expressed his belief, that 
George the Third " was not a tyrant in disposition and 
" in nature ;" but that he was " deceived by his cour- 
" tiers on both sides of the Atlantic ; and in his official 
" capacity only cruel." 

Had J. Q. Adams been a private citizen, the senti- 
ments in his oration, here adverted to, would have 
been a subject of just reproach : but, viewing him as 
the Secretary of State the officer of the government 
whose particular duty it was to hold a courteous and 
amicable intercourse with foreign nations with whom 
the United States were at peace it was peculiarly in- 
decorous thus to insult the memory of the deceased 
King. From his general reputation, if there was, at 
that period, a monarch in Europe, whose actions and 
whose life were regulated by moral principles, it was 
George the Third. Will it then be deemed a stretch 
of candour to suppose, that he verily thought himself 
bound by the duties of his station, as the head of the 
British empire, to preserve it entire ? 


On the score of talents and learning, the experience 
f five and thirty } r ears, in the United States, has fur- 
nished ample proof, that a practical knowledge of the 
interests of the country, and common sense deliberately 
exercised in forming a sound judgment, united with 
perfect integrity and pure and disinterested patriotism, 
are of infinitely greater value, than genius without sta- 
bility, profound learning, ripe scholarship, and philoso- 
phy ; the latter often wasting its energies in visionary 
theories and political dreams. 



IT appears to have been a material object of Mr. 
Adams, in his Correspondence with Cunningham, where 
he labours, to justify his dismissing me from the office 
of secretary of state, to show that I did not possess the 
qualifications necessary to perform the duties of it. 
This reproach from him should have been spared, when 
he knew what I had written and published in Boston 
above five months before the date of his letter -to Cun- 
ningham, No. XII, the first in which he introduces my 
name. Mr. Adams had certainly read that publication; 
for it is the same in which I recited to Governor Sulli- 
van J. Q. Adams's extraordinary sentiment in the em- 
bargo question, which I have already stated. Mr. Cun- 
ningham (Letter No. XI) asks the causes of my dismis- 
sion; which (says he) "I have never seen unfolded, 
" and which Col. Pickering has nearly pronounced in- 
" explicable ;" referring to my last printed letter to 
Governor Sullivan, which is dated April 22, 1808. The 
principal object of that letter was, my vindication against 


many aspersions on my character. The urgent motives 
to undertake that vindication are expressed in the fol- 
lowing paragraph of the same letter : 

" I am now, sir, far advanced in life. I have children 
" and grand-children, w r ho, when I am gone, may hear 
" these slanders repeated, and not have the means of 
" repelling them. I have, too, some invaluable friends 
" in most of the states, and many in that which gave 
" me birth ; men who are the ornaments of society and 
" of their country. All these, if not my country itself, 
." interested as it is in the public concerns on which I 
" first addressed you [the embargo] have claims which 
" I ought not to leave unsatisfied. Thus called upon 
" to vindicate my character, I am constrained to give a 
" concise narrative of my public life." 

I shall not trouble the reader with long details. It 
may suffice to say, That early in 1708, when a marked 
line was drawn between whigs and tories (the party 
names of that day) I acted with the former in all the 
measures of my countrymen, in opposition to British 
taxation of the colonies that in my native town I was 
a member of the various committees raised in that pe- 
riod, to support that opposition ; and that on me de- 
volved all the writing which occasions called for : 
That, prior to the war which ensued, I was elected by 
the freeholders of my native county, Essex, register of 
deeds that, after the commencement of hostilities, 
when Massachusetts organized a provisional govern- 
ment, I was appointed a judge of the county court of 
common pleas ; and sole judge of the maritime court, 
to take cognizance of prize causes, pursuant to the re- 
solutions of Congress, for the middle district of Massa- 
chusetts, comprehending Boston, Marblehead, Salem, 
and other ports in Essex. Into these places were 
brought most of the prizes taken by the armed vessels 
of Massachusetts. The number of those prizes, while 
I held the office, (which was until I joined the army 
under General Washington's immediate command) 
amounted to about one hundred and fifty. In the au- 
tonn of 1776, the army being greatly reduced, by the 

expiration of enlistments, and likely soon to be nearly 
dissolved, there was a call on Massachusetts for many 
thousands of her militia. I marched a regiment of se- 
ven hundred men from Essex. The tour of duty ter- 
minated in New-Jersey, in March 1777. General 
Washington's head quarters were at Morristown. 
Some time after my return home, I received from the 
General an invitation to take the office of adjutant gen- 
eral. In that capacity, I joined the army at Middle- 
brook about the middle of the month of June. In Sep- 
tember happened the battle of Brandy wine. Five days 
afterwards another general action was expected ; but, 
rain coming on, the enemy halted ; and, after some 
skirmishes between the advanced parties, the American 
army retired. In October the battle of Germantown 
took place. After the capture of Burgoyne's army, 
General Washington, reinforced by some brigades from 
the northern army, took an advantageous position at 
Whitemarsh, fourteen miles from Philadelphia. In the 
beginning of December, Sir William Howe led his ar- 
my from Philadelphia to Chesnut Hill, about three 
miles from the American army, and on the morning of 
the third day afterwards advanced, with his whole 
force, apparently with the expectation, or hope, of 
drawing Washington from his advantageous position. 
The advanced parties, and Morgan's rifle regiment, 
engaged the British advanced parties. Washington re- 
taining his station on the hills, Howe returned to Phi- 
ladelphia. The American army then marched to Val- 
ley Forge, on the western side of the river Schuylkill, 
and hutted for the vrinter. 

Some two or three months before, Congress had con- 
stituted a Board of War. I was appointed one of its 
members ; and took my seat there as soon as a succes- 
sor in the office of adjutant general was appointed, be- 
ing the last of January 1778. Jud;e Peters was a mem- 
ber of the board, and we were joined by Generals Gates 
and Mifflin: but these two left the board not long af- 
terwards, and the business of it rested chiefly en Mr. 
Peters and myself. I continued .in this station until the 


slimmer of 1780. when General Greene resigned the 
office of quarter master general. Very unexpectedly* 
that office was proposed to me, and by Roger Sher- 
man, then a member of Congress ; a man whose name, 
in the annals of his country, will descend to posterity 
among the names of her eminent patriots and states- 
men. Having taken a little time to consider the pro- 
position, I informed him that I would accept the office, 
should it please Congress to confer it. It was an ar- 
duous undertaking, and the more embarrassing because 
continental paper money was so depreciated as to be 
hardly worth counting ; and Congress had no other 
funds. Having accepted the office, I addressed a letter 
to Congress, proposing the expedient of authorizing me 
to value all services and supplies, in the department, as 
if to be paid for in specie, and to give certificates there- 
for, bearing an interest of six per cent. This measure 
was adopted ; and with the aid of these certificates the 
business of the department, which under the new reg- 
ulations extended to all the states, was carried on, un- 
til that eminent citizen, Robert Morris, appointed su- 
perintendent of finance, by his personal credit, furnish- 
ed, in his own promissory notes, (which foreign loans 
enabled him to redeem) a medium which passed as 
cash. I continued in the office of quarter master gen* 
eral to the end of the war. 

In the year 1791, President Washington appointed 
me postmaster general. At the close of the year 1794, 
General Knox resigned the office of secretary of war, 
and Washington appointed me his successor. In Au- 
gust 1795, on the resignation of Edmund Randolph, 
secretary of state, Washington charged me with the 
business of that department Some time before the 
meeting of Congress, which was in December follow- 
ing, the President tendered to me the office of secre- 
tary of state : at the same time he frankly told me the 
names of three highly distinguished citizens, to whom 
he had offered, but who declined accepting, the office. 
General Washington knew me well, and that I had not 
enough of vanity or ambition to be wounded or hum* 


bled at the preference given to those gentlemen ; they 
were entitled to it : I only regretted that they declined 
the office. For myself, I objected, that the duties of 
the department of state were foreign to my former pur- 
suits in life ; and I thought myself unequal to the pro- 
per discharge of them. He desired me to take the 
matter into consideration. When he again spoke to 
me on the subject, I observed, that although the gen- 
tlemen he had named to me had declined the office, 
yet by a little delay he might find some other candi- 
date to fill it. The session of Congress was approach- 
ing. By inquiry among the members he might obtain 
information of a fit character not then occurring to 
him ; and I requested him to postpone the matter until 
the meeting of Congress. The President acquiesced. 
But as soon as Congress assembled without speaking 
to me again he nominated me to be secretary of state ; 
and the Senate approved the nomination. 

Now all these important offices, in the general go- 
vernment, were voluntarily conferred upon me ; the 
last, and highest, attended by the singular circumstan- 
ces I have just stated ; and all of them unasked for, in 
any form whatever. Yet Mr. Adams says, Pickering 
was ambitious ! Had I solicited these offices had I 
made an interest through my friends, or intrigued with 
my enemies, to obtain them had I swelled with vani- 
ty on their acquisition I might have been pronounced 
ambitious. The following are Mr. Adams's words : 
" Under the simple appearance of a bald head and 
" straight hair, and under professions of profound re- 
" publicanism, he conceals an ardent ambition, envious 
u of every superior, and impatient of obscurity !"* 

My " bald head and straight hair" are what nature 
has given me ; and I have been content with her ar- 
rangements : they are not a fit subject for reproach. Mr. 
Adams's friend Cunningham reminds him, that it was 
rather unfortunate for him to attempt to degrade Ham- 
ilton, by calling him " the little man ;" seeing, though 
'with less flesh, he surpassed in stature both him and 

* Letter XVII, p. 56. 


his son. Of all men living, those who best know me 
will say, that I am one of the last to whom a disposi- 
tion in any manner to disguise his sentiments, should 
be imputed. 

Having seen, throughout the " Correspondence," a 
series of misrepresentations of comparatively recent 
events, it cannot surprise one that Mr. Adams should 
misstate an occurrence fifty or sixty years old. He 
says, that he was engaged in a cause in which my fa- 
ther was a witness : that " while under examination, 
" though treated with the utmost respect and civility, he 
" broke out, without the smallest provocation, into a 
" rude personal attack upon him," Mr. Adams. I know 
my father's character too well to give any credit to the 
latter part of thijs tale. He was a farmer ; yet, bred in 
the town, his manners were not coarse and rude. It is 
true that he thought all men were born free and equal ; 
and though indisposed to any act of humiliation' to a 
proud barrister, he would treat his poor neighbour with 
kindness and civility. The story admits of an easy solu- 
tion. It was, I presume, a cross-examination ; and that 
my father's testimony bore hard upon the cause of Mr. 
Adams's client. Then, as it not unfrequently happens, 
(and I have often thought with too much indulgence from 
the court) the lawyer brow-beat the witness, with the 
hope to confound him, in order, amidst his confusion, to 
produce some change in his language that might lessen 
or destroy the weight of his testimony. Such, proba- 
bly, was Mr. Adams's conduct towards my father ; who 
had discernment enough to perceive the insult, and 
spirit enough not to let it pass unnoticed. In com- 
menting upon the testimony, in his argument to the 
jury, Mr. Adams says he raised a general laugh at my 
father's expense. He supposes that I was present ; 
and says " I have never forgiven him." Now, whether 
this miserable tale be true in whole, or in part, or 
wholly destitute of truth, it is, as to the conclusion, al- 
together immaterial : for I never heard of it before ; 
nor do I remember a single instance in which my fa- 
ther was examined as a witness in any court. There. 


was, consequently, no object on account of which, iti 
regard to Mr. Adams, I could impart or withhold for- 
giveness. My father, at the age of 75, died almost six 
and forty years ago. 

I have mentioned one cause of Mr. Adams's viru- 
lent reproaches in giving an account of Mr. Jefferson's 
embargo. I shall now mention another. His friend 
Cunningham desires to be informed by Mr. Adams of 
the causes of his dismissing me from office.* He 
eagerly seized the occasion to vent his resentments, 
while he gratified the extreme curiosity of his friend. 

In his first answer,t Mr. Adams says " Caesar's 
" wife must not be suspected was all the reason he 
" gave for repudiating her." [On this reason I make 
but a single remark, that the familiarity of this same 
delicate Caesar, with the other sex, was so notorious, 
that he was stigmatised as the husband of every wo* 
man in Rome.] Mr. Adams proceeds " Reasons of 
" state are not always to be submitted to newspaper 
" discussions. It is sufficient for me to say, that I had 
" reasons enough, not only to satisfy me, but to make 
" it my indispensable duty. Reasons which, upon the 
" coolest deliberation, I still approve. I was not so 
" ignorant of Mr. Pickering, his family relations, his 
" political, military and local connexions, as not to be 
" well aware of the consequences to myself. I said at 
" the time, to a few confidential friends, that I signed 
" my own dismission when I signed his, and that he 
" would rise again, but I should fall forever." [This, 
I doubt not (the reader will pardon the apparent sole- 
cism) was a prediction after the event ; Mr. Adams, 
when he wrote this letter, forgot the date of his pro- 
phecy.] " His removal was one of the most delibe- 
" rate, virtuous and disinterested actions of my life." 

On this part of the answer, I must pray the reader 
to pause for a moment. That there were, in his own 
views, " reasons of state," I am ready to admit : Avhat 
they were will by-and-by appear. But his prediction, 
that for " one of the most deliberate, virtuous and 

* Letter XI, dated Oct. 5, 1808. t Letter XII, Oct. 15, 1808. 


<> disinterested actions of his life," " he should fall for- 
" ever" while /, the subject of that act, " should rise 
" again" appears, among intelligent and virtuous peo- 
ple, really enigmatical. Incapable, as he represents 
me, on what ground could Mr. Adams predict that I 
should rise again ? Never in my life did I court po- 
pularity, the usual road to honours and employments. 
Yet I have had many excellent friends, whose appro- 
bation has infinitely more than countervailed all the 
obloquy of which I have been the subject. 

Mr. Adams proceeds "If any future historian should 
" have access to the letter books of the Secretaries of 
* State, and compare Mr. Pickering's negotiations with 
rt England, with those of Mr. Marshall, he wih see rea- 
a ^ons enough for the exchange of ministers." 

Be it so : but the actual comparison was out of the 
question when I was removed ; my letters only being 
on the books ; and Mr. Adams saw very few of them ; 
as he usually passed half the year, enjoying otium cum 
dignitate, at Quincy ; and during the sessions of Con- 
gress he never called for a letter book to read one of 
them. However, he might very well calculate on the 
superiority to which he refers ; as Mr. Marshall's dis- 
tinguished talents were well known ; and perhaps no 
one entertains a higher opinion of them than I do. 
Since we were personally known to each other, I have 
been happy in receiving uniform testimonies of his 
friendship and esteem. His elevated and generous 
mind will derive no pleasure from this contrast. 

Mr. Adams again. " In consequence of Mr. Picker- 
" ing's removal, I was enabled to negotiate and com- 
" plete a peace with France, and an amicable settle- 
" ment with England." 

I do not know what settlement with England he re- 
fers to. The difficult question about impressment of 
seamen was not then adjusted ; nor in the two next 
succeeding administrations ; though in the latter of 
them it was one of the professed objects of a three 
years' war, vastly expensive in money and in human 
lives : nor is it settled to this day. There was another 


subject of dispute with England the debts incurred 
by Americans prior to the revolutionary war, and re- 
maining due to British merchants. What negotiations, 
in this case, were carried on by Mr. Marshall and the 
British government, I do not know ; yet I am sure, that, 
on the part of Mr. Marshall, they must have been ably 
conducted : but, nevertheless, they did not effect an 
" amicable settlement," as Mr. Adams asserts ; nor any 
settlement at all ; unless it was, that the two parties, 
unable to agree on terms, mutually consented to let the 
matter rest : for an actual settlement was not made un- 
til January 1 802, near the close of the first year of Mr. 
Jefferson's presidency, by a convention negotiated hi 
London, by Rufus King, the American Minister, and 
the British Secretary of State. This was a compro- 
mise about the British debts. It was agreed, as I have 
already stated, that the United States should pay to 
his Britannic Majesty, six hundred thousand pounds 
sterling, ($2,664,000) for the use of his subjects, credi- 
tors to the American ante-revolution debtors, in dis- 
charge of those creditors' claims. That he was ena- 
bled to make peace with France, in consequence of my 
removal, is not true. The Commissioners, Ellsworth 
and Davie, furnished with full and minute instructions, 
sailed for France six months before my removal ; and 
my being in or out of office was a matter of perfect 
indifference in the negotiations, and in their result. 

Having so far gratified Cunningham's eager appetite 
for secret history, he takes care to keep up the excite- 
ment, by saying, near the close of this letter, " But I 
" am not yet to reveal the whole mystery." Accord- 
ingly, in the next letter, No. XIII, Cunningham re- 
news his importunity " to be initiated into the whole 
" mystery," relating to me. 

In his next letter (No. XIV) Mr. Adams adds to the 
former subjects of negotiation, " discussions of great 
" importance with Spain," as well as with France and 
England. On the discussions with Spain, I can speak 
with some certainty, having seen Mr. Marshall's letters 
to Col. Humphreys, our minister at Madrid* Th^v 


were tew in number, and treated of the spoliations of 
our commerce, by the privateers of France and Spain. 
By both, the captured vessels were carried into the 
ports of Spain, and there generally condemned, in vio- 
lation of every law that is held in respect by civilized 
nations. The case was too plain to require the abili- 
ties of Mr. Marshall to discuss it. The chief clerk 
whom I left in the Department of State, and whom Mr. 
Marshall retained, was quite competent to that task. 
The Spanish government was at that time but partial- 
ly independent. French Consuls in her ports erected 
themselves into tribunals taking cognizance of prize 
causes. The captures made by Spanish armed vessels, 
and unlawfully condemned in Spanish courts, were 
the subject of a treaty afterwards negotiated by Mr. 
Jefferson's minister to Spain, Charles Pinckney ; in 
which the Spanish government stipulated to make 
compensation for all which, on due investigation, should 
be found in that predicament. But the Senate, to 
whom this treaty was submitted, did not (under an in- 
fluence easy to divine) advise its ratification. At the 
next session of Congress, the same treaty was again 
submitted to the Senate, who then advised its ratifica- 
tion. But it was too late ; the Spanish government 
now refused to ratify. It was rejected by our own 
government, in the first instance, because the illegal 
captures and condemnations, by French armed vessels, 
and the French Consular Tribunals, were not compre- 
hended, and stipulated to be paid for by Spain. She 
was in fact under duress from the French Republic, 
under whose authority, or efficacious countenance, the 
French Consular Tribunals were erected. On these 
three subjects of negotiation, Mr. Adams says, " I could 
" get nothing done as I would have it. My new min- 
'' ister, Marshall, did all, to my entire satisfaction." 

Mr. Adams was a lawyer, a statesman, a diplomatist, 
of great experience ; and from his abundant resources, 
ready at his call, it would not be unnatural, or unrea- 
sonable, to expect, that, having endured his lame Se- 
cretary so long, he might be willing to lend him some 

to suggest at least some leading ideas on the sub- 
jects in question : but of these he was certainly ^%ry 
sparing, if he offered any at all. As soon as a session 
of Congress ended, he hurried away to Quincy, to in- 
dulge himself in repqse, almost free from the cares of 
government, and enjoying his office, with its emolu- 
ments, nearly as a sinecure. At the close of the very 
important session in July 1798, he posted off without 
informing any head of department that he was going 
to leave the seat of government ! His son-in-law, Col. 
Smith, nominated for adjutant general, had recently 
been negatived by the Seriate ; and I supposed he de- 
parted in a pet. Much iirthis manner he left the city 
of Washington, early on the morning of the fourth of 
March 1801, the day of the inauguration of his success- 
ful rival, Thomas Jefferson ; vexed and mortified that 
he was not himself elected to the presidency a second 
time. Washington stayed in Philadelphia, and, with 
dignified courtesy, attended the inauguration of Mr. Ad- 
ams ; and afterwards made him a visit at his lodgings, 
before he departed for Mount Vernon. 

So much on the score of incapacity, with which I 
am roundly charged by Mr. Adams. With this, how- 
ever, great as it may have been, it was somewhat cruel 
to upbraid me, after what had passed between Presi- 
dent Washington and me, when he tendered me the 
office of Secretary of State, as recited in my letter to 
Governor Sullivan, which Mr. Adams had read, and 
which, as already mentioned, caused the out-pouring 
of his wrath ; and after I had held the office a year 
and a half under Washington, and three years and two 
months under Adams himself. 

If the reader will have the goodness to accompany 
me, we will now look on the other side of the ques- 

Mr. Adams having advanced far in gratifying Cun- 
ningham's inquiry concerning my dismission, the itch- 
ing curiosity of the latter prompts him to solicit further 
information. " I wish," says he, " my suspicions were 
41 obviated or confirmed, that his (Pickering's) far-famed 


" report to Congress, on our foreign relations, was not 
" his own unassisted performance." There were two 
reports relating to France. To the first Mr. Cun- 
ningham must refer. It was in the form of a letter, 
of great length, dated the 16th of January 1797, ad- 
dressed to General Pinckney, the American minister 
at Paris ; a copy of which on the 19th of that month, 
was communicated by Washington to Congress; by 
whose order it was printed. It made a pamphlet of a 
hundred pages. Mr. Adams had satisfactory reasons 
to know, that it was my own composition ; but he care- 
fully avoided answering Cunningham's importunate de- 
sire of information on this point ; it would have pre- 
sented a contradiction to his numerous vilifying re- 
proaches. This report was the result of a thorough 
and laborious investigation, which enabled me to con- 
clude with the following inferences : 

" From the foregoing statement we trust it will ap- 
" pear, That there has been no attempt in the govern- 
" ment of the United States to violate our treaty, or 
" weaken our engagements with France : That what- 
" ever resistance it has opposed to the measures of her 
"agents, the maintenance of the laws and sovereignty 
" of the United States and their neutral obligations 
" rendered indispensable : That it has never acquiesced 
u in any acts violating our rights, or interfering with 
" the advantages stipulated to France ; but, on the con- 
u trary, has opposed them by all the means in its pow- 
" er : That it has withheld no succours from France, 
" that were compatible with the duties of neutrality to 
" grant : That, as well by their independent political 
" rights, as by the express provisions of the commer- 
" cial treaty with France, the United States were at 
" full liberty to enter into commercial treaties with any 
" other nation, and consequently with Great-Britain : 
u That no facts manifesting a partiality to that country 
" have been, and I add, that none such can be, pro* 
" duced. 

" Of the propriety and justness of these conclusions* 
" you will endeavour to satisfy the French govern- 

> ; ment : and, conscious of the rectitude of our own 
" proceedings, during the whole course of the present 
' war, we cannot but entertain the most sanguine ex- 
" pectations that they will be satisfied. We even hope 
" that this has been already accomplished; and that 
" you will be saved from the pain of renewing a dis- 
*' cussion, which the government has entered upon 
" with regret. Your mission and instructions prove its 
" solicitude to have prevented its necessity, and the 
" sincerity of its present hopes, that your endeavours, 
" agreeably to those instructions, ' to remove jealousies, 
" and obviate complaints, by showing that they were 
" groundless to restore confidence, so unfortunately 
" and injuriously impaired to explain the relative in- 
44 terests of both countries, and the real sentiments of 
v your own,' have been attended with success. And, 
" as a consequence thereof, we rely on the repeal of 
" the decrees and orders which expose our com- 
" merce to indefinite injuries, which militate with the 
- 4 obligations of treaties, and our rights as a neutral na- 
" tion." 

Of the nature and character of this letter to General 
Pinckney, I can desire no higher or better opinion than 
Chief Justice Marshall's. In his Life of Washington, 
Vol. V, p. 725, he gives the following account of it : 

" Early in the session (1797) the President commu- 
" nicated to Congress, in a special message, the com- 
" plaints alleged by the representative of the French 
" republic against the government of the United States. 
" These complaints embracing most of the transactions 
" of the legislative and executive departments in rela- 
" tion to the belligerent powers, a particular and care- 
" ful review of almost every act of the administration, 
" which could affect those powers, became indispensa- 
" ble. The principal object for the mission of General 
" Pinckney to Paris having been to make to the Ex ecu- 
" tive Directory those full and fair explanations of the 
"principles and conduct of the American government, 
" which, by removing such prejudices and jealousies 
" ft as were founded on misconception, might restore that 


" harmony between the two republics which the Pre~ 
u sident had at all times anxiously sought to preserve, 
" this review r was addressed to that minister. It pre- 
" sented a minute and comprehensive detail of all the 
" points of controversy which had arisen between the 
" two nations, and defended the measures which had 
" been adopted in America, with a clearness and a 
" strength of argument believed to be irresistible. To 
" place the subject in a point of view admitting of no 
" possible misunderstanding, the Secretary of State had 
" annexed to his own full and demonstrative reasoning, 
" documents establishing the real fact in each particular 
" case, and the correspondence relating to it." 

The other report I addressed to President Adams 
himself, on the 18th of January 1799, to be communi- 
cated to Congress. On the 21st he made the commu- 
nication, with the following message addressed to the 
two Houses : 

" According to an intimation in my message of Fri- 
" day last, I now lay before Congress a Report of the 
" Secretary of State, containing his observations on 
" some of the documents which attended it." 

These documents consisted of a letter, dated June 
25, 1798, from me to Mr. Gerry, then in Paris ; of a 
very long letter from him to me, dated Oct. 1, 1798, 
at Nantasket Road, the lower harbour of Boston, where 
he had just arrived from France ; prepared, of course, 
on his voyage ; and studiously framed, to put the best 
face possible on his transactions with the French min- 
ister Talleyrand, after his colleagues, Pinckney and 
Marshall, had been obliged to leave Paris ; and of a 
mass of papers, numbered from one to thirty -five. To 
these I added two or three letters from Fulwar Skip- 
with, consul general of the United States at Paris, and 
some papers received by him from the French minis- 
ter, after Mr. Gerry left that city. These were the 
documents referred to by Mr. Adams, in his message 
to Congress, on which I made my report ; which oc- 
cupies a pamphlet of 45 pages, published by order of 
the House of Representatives. 


To understand perfectly, and justly to estimate, the 
conduct of the United States government, in relation 
to France, during the administrations of Presidents 
Washington and Adams, one must read the correspon- 
dences between the Department of State and the 
French ministers to the United States, Genet, Fauchet 
and Adet ; and the letters and reports of the secreta- 
ries of state, on the subjects in controversy between 
the two Republics. This, perhaps, will hardly be un- 
dertaken by anyone, excepting the historian who shall 
minutely investigate the public transactions of that pe- 
riod. Chief Justice Marshall, when writing the Life of 
Washington, read, as he once told me, the immense 
mass of letters and papers left by him, in relation to all 
his public transactions, during the long periods in which 
he was engaged in the service of his country ; and the 
reader has seen, in the extract from the Life of Wash- 
ington, that all the acts of his administration, in relation 
to France, received, in the opinion of the chief justice, a 
complete vindication, in my letter of January 16th, 1797, 
to General Pinckney. My report to Mr. Adams, of 
January 18th, 1799, was intended, by an exhibition of 
the subsequent unjust, tyrannical and profligate conduct 
of the French government, to justify our own govern- 
ment in all its measures tow r ards the French Repul tr. 
whether in its attempts to conciliate by negotiation, or 
of armed defence against her wanton and outrageous 
hostilities. The examination of Mr. Gerry's budget of 
documents, which constituted the basis of that report, 
led me to remark, That the points, chiefly meriting at- 
tention, were the attempts of the French government, 

1. To exculpate itself from the charge of corruption 
as having demanded a douceur of fifty thousand pounds 
sterling (222,000 dollars) for the pockets of the Direc- 
tors and Ministers of the Republic, as represented in 
the despatches of our envoys : 

2. To detach Mr. Gerry from his colleagues, and to 
inveigle him into a separate negotiation ; and 

3. Its design, if the negotiation failed, and a war 
should take place between the United States and France, 
to throw the blame of the rupture on the United States. 


The report does not admit of an abridgement I can 
introduce only its concluding observations, the result 
of my examination. They are tliese : " The French 
a government, by always abstaining from making spe- 
<l cific demands of damages by refusing to receive 
" our ministers by at length proposing to negotiate, 
A in a mode which it knew to be impracticable, with 
" the person who had no powers, and who therefore 
ft constantly refused to negotiate, and thus wholly avoid- 
A ing a negotiation has kept open the field for com- 
61 plaints of wrongs and injuries, in order, by leaving 
tt them undefined, to furnish pretences for unlimited 
" depredations. In this way it 4 determined to fleece 
rt us :' In this way it gratified its avarice and revenge ; 
" and it hoped also to satiate its ambition. After a long 
" series of insults unresented, and a patient endurance 
tt of injuries aggravated in their nature and unexampled 
a in their extent, that government expected our final 
41 submission to its will. Our resistance has excited its 
rt surprise, and as certainly increased its resentment 
* With some soothing expressions, is heard the voice 
rt of wounded pride. Warmly expressing its desire of 
A reconciliation, it gives no evidence of its sincerity ; 
" but proofs in abundance demonstrate that it is not sin- 
" cere. From standing erect, and in that commanding 
ft attitude requiring implicit obedience cowering, it re- 
" nounces some of its unfounded demands. But I hope 
" we shall remember, ' that the tiger crouches, before 
'* he leaps upon his prey.' " 

Of the truth of this report its conformity to facts 
and the correctness of the inferences Mr. Adams must 
at that time have been satisfied; or he would not have 
communicated it to Congres. It is true he calls the 
report the observations of the secretary of state ; but 
they were the secretary's observations after passing 
Mr. Adams's examination and expurgation ; that is, af- 
ter he had marked a number of sentences to be struck 
out, because they bore somewhat hardly on the conduct 
of his friend and favourite minister, Mr. Gerry ; who, 
it must be confessed, appears as a principal actor, and 


the hero of the report. But, after this expurgation, all 
that remained must be considered as having his appro- 
bation. But it happens to be in my power to present 
the reader with the opinion of a perfectly competent 
and impartial judge. In searching among my papers. 
I have found the following letter from General (now 
chief justice) Marshall to me, which I trust he will ex- 
cuse my presenting to the public, seeing it is material 
to my vindication from Mr. Adams's aspersions on this 
particular subject. Readers will be pleased to recol- 
lect, that General Marshall, having been one of the en- 
voys to the French republic, with Mr. Gerry, was per- 
fectly acquainted with the characters of the Directory 
and their minister Talleyrand; and, comparing the 
management of this minister with Mr. Gerry with the 
occurrences under the direction of the same minister, 
during the six months that Marshall and Pinckney had 
stayed in Paris, was perfectly competent to form a cor- 
rect judgment. 


" Richmond, Feb. 19, '99. 

" An occasional absence from Richmond suspended for some time 
my acknowledgment of the receipt of your -very correct analysis and 
able commentary on the late negotiation with France. 1 wish it could 
be read more generally than I fear it will be. 

" I am grieved rather than surprised at Mr. Gerry's letter. To my 
comprehension, the evidence, on which his judgment is formed, posi- 
tively contradicts the opinion he has given us. From what facts he 
infers the pacific temper of the French government, I am unable to 
conjecture. That France is not desirous of immediate war with Ame- 
rica, is obvious ; that is, of reciprocal war for she has been loay mak- 
ing it on us; but, that any indications appear of a disposition for a 
solid accommodation, on terms such as America can accede to, is by 
no means to be admitted. 

" It is strange that Mr. Gerry should state the negotiation to have 
been in a fair train when intelligence of the publication of the des- 
patches arrived in Paris ; while he represents Mr Talleyrand as hav- 
ing declined entering on the proposed treaty, until he could knoir the 
temper of our government on the communications that had been made, 
which communications related chiefly to money ; and while also he 
states Mr. Talleyrand to declare, that he had never approved of send- 
ing a minister to the United States. 

1 am, tec. 


Every reader acquainted with the character of Gen- 
eral Marshall (and who in the United States, at all 
conversant in public affairs, is a stranger to it ?) will 
be satisfied that my report, as communicated to Con- 
gress by Mr. Adams himself, far from containing any 
thing exceptionable, merits approbation. Fortunately 
it is in my power to show, that the passages struck 
from the original draught are alike unexceptionable. 
These I have exhibited in the section on Elbridge 
Gerry, from a press copy found among my papers, 
with all the parts to be expunged, according to the 
President's direction, included between brackets. I 
am aware that these minute details may, at this day, 
excite little interest ; and I would not invite attention 
to them, had they not been rendered important by Mr. 
Adams, in making my original report the basis of a 
malicious slander. 

Every American who lived in the days of the French 
republic, particularly in the years 1796, 7, 8 and 9, or who, 
by a little reading, has become acquainted with the trans- 
actions of that period, will remember the familiar use of 
the letters X, Y, and Z, in relation to those transactions. 
Those letters have often been repeated ludicrously, 
even as though they represented fictitious characters ; 
whereas, in decyphering the voluminous despatches of 
our envoy s,Pinckney, Marshall and Gerry, I substituted, 
for a reason to be herein after mentioned, those letters 
for the names of persons introduced to our envoys in 
Paris ; whither they had been sent, and where they 
waited patiently for six months, for the purpose of ef- 
fecting an amicable settlement of all differences be- 
tween the United States and the French Republic ; 
which differences, by the government of that republic, 
in the hands of a Five-Headed Executive, called the 
" Directory," were made the pretences for a scene of 
piracies, in kind never surpassed, in extent never 
equalled, by the barbarous Mahometan Regencies of 
Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. On the arrival of our en- 
voys at Paris, "cards of hospitality" were sent to them, 
to entitle them to stay there unmolested by the police. 


y? hey delivered to Mr. Talleyrand,* minister for foreigft 
afiairs, copies of their letters of credence ; and rightfully 
expected to be soon presented to the Directory, by its 
minister. But they were not presented they were 
never admitted to the presence of that haughty and 
insolent Executive. The arms of France had subject- 
ed Holland, Spain, Portugal, and the minor powers 
conveniently within their reach ; and even Austria was 
compelled to make peace. All the subject nations 
were treated with little ceremony ; and some with ut- 
ter contempt ; to which they submitted. The Direc- 
tory expected a like humble submission from the Uni- 
ted States. In this they were encouraged by their 
knowledge of a powerful party which from the begin- 
ning were opposed to the federal administration under 
Washington, and who persisted in their opposition 
during the continued federal administration of govern- 
ment under his successor Mr. Adams* Few, if any, im- 
portant acts of the federal administrations, prior to the 
year 1799, escaped opposition from that party, of which 
Mr. Jefferson was the reputed, and undoubtedly the 
actual, head and oracle. This party vehemently op- 
posed even the building of two or three frigates, which 
were necessary to protect our commerce from the Al- 
gerines ! those frigates which, were the commence- 
ment of that navy which, in the late war having saved 
the administration from political perdition, has now be- 
come a favourite with the government, as well as with 
the people. 

Instead of admitting our envoys to an audience with 
the Directory, their minister, Mr. Talleyrand, employ- 
ed certain agents to make overtures to inform them 
of the temper of the Directory towards the United 
States, as filled with resentment, on account of some 
expressions in President Adams's speech to Congress* 
in which he noticed the offensive discrimination made 
by the French government, between the people of the 

* This is the same extraordinary personage who, linger the title of Frince 
Talleyrand, made an important figure for some years under the Emperor Bo- 
iftaparte, and since in the court of I*>uis the Eighteenth. 



tlnited States and their government, in the last public 
audience given to Mr. Monroe, minister from the Uni- 
ted States, on his taking leave of the Directory, in the 
year 1796. 

The parts of the President's speech, with which the 
Directory affected to be offended, regarded chiefly the 
speech of the President of the Directory to Mr. Mon- 
roe. Mr. Adams said (and most truly) that it was 
marked with indignities towards the government of 
the United States. " It evinced," said he, " a dispo- 
" sition to separate the people of the United States 
" from their government ; to persuade them that they 
" have different affections, principles and interests 
" from those of their fellow-citizens whom they them- 
" selves had chosen to manage their common concerns ; 
" and thus to produce divisions fatal to our peace." 
But not the government only was reproached ; the 
whole people of the United States were insulted in 
the speech to Mr. Monroe : " They," (said the Presi-' 
" dent Barras) " always proud of their liberty, will 
" never forget that they owe it to France." A gener- 
ous friend, who had conferred the greatest benefit, even 
at the hazard of life, on another, would never boast of 
it ; much less would he tauntingly remind the latter of 
his obligations. 

I have suggested, that the resentment of the Direc- 
tory against the American government was merely af- 
fected, for the purpose now to be explained. 

Had there existed in the Directory a particle of 
honesty or honour, and had there been any solid grounds 
for complaint against the United States, our envoys 
would nave been at once admitted to an audience ; 
commissioners would have been appointed to negotiate 
on all the topics of complaint ; all differences would 
have been settled, and harmony and good will restored. 
But the French government had no just ground for 
even one of their complaints. Such was the opinion 
of well informed men at the time ; and such, the reader 
has seen, was the deliberate opinion of the enlighten- 
ed citizen, Chief Justice Marshall, formed several years 


afterwards, on an examination of all the public docu- 
ments, aided by his own personal knowledge, relating 
to the subject. 

Why then, was there such a loud and long continued 
clamour of the French government against the United 
States ; especially against their government ? I shall 
not attempt to enumerate all the causes. Those who 
conducted the affairs of France, doubtless, wished to 
involve the United States in the war commenced with 
England in 1793. But the President (Washington) af- 
ter the most mature consultation with the members of 
the administration, consisting of Jefferson, Hamilton, 
Knox and Randolph, determined that it was the right, 
as well as the interest, of the United States, to remain 
at peace ; and, in pursuance of this determination, he 
issued his proclamation of neutrality, and enjoined up- 
on the citizens of the United States an observance of 
all the duties of neutrality. The exactness with which 
the Executive endeavoured to secure and enforce their 
observance offended the government of France. 

Having a serious controversy with Great-Britain o 
subjects arising out of the existing war, as well as 
claims of vast importance resulting from the treaty of 
peace of 1783, the government of the United States, 
instead of plunging the country into an expensive and 
bloody war, sought redress by an amicable negotiation. 
Success attended the pacific measure. By mutual 
stipulations, provision was made for adjusting all the 
matters in dispute between the two nations for which 
the mission was instituted. Of this treaty the French 
government loudly complained; and pretended that it 
contravened some of the articles of our commercial 
treaty with France. There was no foundation for this 
complaint ; the treaty with Great-Britain (well known 
by the name of Jay's treaty) containing an article, in- 
troduced by Mr. Jay, for the express purpose of se- 
curing to France and other nations, with whom we had 
engaged in treaties, the perfect enjoyment of every 
right and privilege to which those treaties entitled i\ em. 
The real cause of French clamour about this treaty was. 


that it nr evented a war between the United States and 
her Most kated, enemy, Great-Britain. The Frerch go- 
vernment pretended, that some articles in the British 
treaty gave that nation advantages not secured to 
France by our commercial treaty with her; To 
remove this ground of complaint, though under no 
obligation to do it, we offered to change our stipula- 
tions with her which she said operated to her disad- 
vantage or to make an entire new treaty, to give to 
her every advantage which accrued to Great-Britain by 
any article in Jay's treaty. But the French govern- 
ment evaded every offer we could make : it would not 
negotiate it would not receive our envoys commis- 
sioned for the sole purpose of adjusting, by an amica- 
ble negotiation, every point in dispute between France 
and the United States. She had for two years been 
carrying on a piratical war against our commerce ; to 
which we had made no armed resistance, and which 
therefore she preferred to mutual peace ; presuming,, 
that while so many nations, subdued by her arms, 
humbly submitted to their fate, the United States 
would be alike subservient. Threats, corresponding 
with these expectations, wsre thrown out, indirectly, 
to intimidate our envoys, to induce them to yield to 
her demands ; a compliance with which would have 
furnished to her enemy, Great-Britain, a just cause of 
war. Those threats made no impression on our en- 
voys. They persevered in their attempts to bring on 
a negotiation ; if with little hope of success, at least 
with the expectation of such a development of the 
character and views of the French government, as 
would satisfy the people of the United States, strongly 

Erejudiced in favour of France, that no treaty with 
er, compatible with the interest, the honour and the 
independence of the United States, was practicable. 
This was sufficientlv ascertained some time before 
Pinckney and Marshall quitted Paris ; and at an earlier 
day they would have sent their final letter to the 
French minister, but were delayed by Mr. Gerry ; on 
whom, in private conferences, Talleyrand had made 


impressions favourable to the designs of the Directory ; 
as will be more particularly related in another place. 
The Directory and Talleyrand expected to engage 
him singly to enter on a negotiation, and to impose on 
him such terms of a treaty as would suit their own 
and the interests of France ; such unequal terms as 
they had been accustomed to impose on the vassal na- 
tions around them, and which, once stipulated by Mr. 
Gerry, and favoured by the whole party opposed to 
the federal administration, which was relied upon as 
partial to France, they presumed the American govern- 
ment would not dare to reject. 

In the same letter, No. XI, dated Oct. 5, 1808, in 
which Cunningham desires Mr. Adams to inform him 
of the causes of my removal, he says, That when in 
Philadelphia, soon afterwards, he was told, that when 
another mission to the French Republic was concluded 
on [meaning that which was commenced by the nomi- 
nation of Mr. Murray] " my aversions to any farther 
" negotiations with France were so untameable, and so 
" indecorously expressed, as to render me an unfit me- 
" dium for the communications between the two go- 
" vernments, and unsuitable to remain in a ministerial 
" station." In the answer of Mr. Adams (Letter No. 
XII, Oct. 15) he says, " The reason you heard in Phi- 
" ladelphia was quite sufficient, if there had been no 
" other ; but there were many other and much stronger 
" reasons." All I need say on this reason is that it is 
a nonentity. And if Mr. Adams, in cases where his re- 
sentments are operating, were capable of any just 
reflection, he would have been ashamed to have adopt- 
ed it ; for he continued me in office almost fifteen 
months after the institution of the mission ; viz. from 
February 18, 1799, the day he nominated Mr. Murray, 
until the 12th of May, 1800, when he sent me my dis- 

In his letter XVII, Mr. Adams mentions, as an evi- 
dence of my incompetency for the Department of 
State, and consequently to justify my removal, that 
when in the Senate of the United States, I was almost 

always in a minority of two, three, four or five, in 34. 
This Mr. Adams has said, as he has 'aid man} other 
things, at random, without examination ; which shows 
how little his naked assertions are to be relied on. 
The number of federal senators was small; and there- 
fore, on questions in which the different principles or 
views of the two parties were affected, federal mem- 
bers would of course be in the minority. But I 1 ad 
the curiosity to look into the journal of the first session 
(1803-4) in which J. Q. Adams and I were in the Sen- 
ate ; and in making a list of the instances when the 
questions were decided by yeas and nays, I found that 
he was seven times in the majority and nineteen tin;es 
in the minority ; while I was eight times only in the 
minority and twenty times in the majority ; and 
than forty times we voted on the same side. I i re- 
sume (for it is too trifling a matter to be critically ex- 
amined) that we continued for the most part voting 
together, until Mr. Adams began to chanpe his ecu; < ;e, 
and finally joined the strongest side. But if a want of 
talents commensurate with the duties of the office of 
Secretary of State rendered me unfit to retain it, why 
did he suffer me to hold it so long ? Did it require 
three years and two months for a person of his know T - 
ledge, discernment and experience (which he certah T y 
believed were not surpassed, if equalled, in any n;?n 
in the United States) to make the discovery ? And if 
he had made it, even by the end of one year, where 
was his regard to his official duty, in letting the pith Sic 
interests suffer, above two years more, and at a n:ost 
critical period, through my incompetency ? 

In his letter No. XXVI, (February 11, 1809) Mr. 
Adams is pleased to give me rank with three men whose 
names are familiarly known throughout the United 
States Shays, who headed the dangerous insurrection 
in Massachusetts Gallatin, a reputed leader in the 
Whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania and Fries, the 
author of the second insurrection in the same state, in 
the time of Mr. Adams's presidency. These three in- 
stances of treason, the highest crime which a citizen 


can commit, he lowers to a small offence " a distur- 
bance" ! But he had pardoned Fries ! (the mode and 
the apparent motive will be explained.) And what a 
cruel thing it would have been to have hung a poor 
man, only for disturbing the tranquillity of a state! 
Tiiis same Fries, however, was convicted of treason^ 
before the court in which that very able and learned 
judge, Samuel Chase, presided the judge whom Mr. 
Adams calls his friend, and on whom he has pronoun- 
ced a lofty eulogy. Associating me with the three per- 
sons first above named, Mr. Adams asks " And why 
may we not have a Pickering's disturbance?" This 
idea of Mr. Adams's was suggested, perhaps, by some 
expressions in his son's letter to Mr. Otis ; in which 
he wished to have it believed that my opposition to 
Mr. Jefferson's embargo law, after it was passed even 
so far as my letter to Governor Sullivan was in oppo- 
sition was unwarrantable. From this wanton charge, 
basely insinuated, my political enemies will not think 
any defence to be necessary. However, I will refer to 
my letter itself, to Governor Sullivan, on which the in- 
sinuation rests, for a vindication. I need recite only 
the last sentence of my letter on the embargo (for which 
I had shown there was no adequate cause) in which I 
say, " Regardless of personal consequences, I have un- 
" dertaken to communicate these details ; with the view 
" to dissipate dangerous illusions ; to give to my con- 
" stituents correct information ; to excite inquiry ; and 
" to rouse that vigilant jealousy which is characteristic 
" of REPUBLICANS, and essential to the preservation of 
ft their rights, their liberties, and their independence." 
In another part of the same letter, I said, " Nothing 
" but the sense of the commercial states, clearly and 
" emphatically expressed, will save them from ruin." 
Of such sentiments I have no reason to be ashamed ; 
and to have expressed them in the most public man- 
ner, is not a subject of regret : they will receive the 
approbation of every independent mind. But if high 
authority were necessary to justify them, I would cite 
that of the same eminent lawyer and upright judge. 


Samuel Chase i " To oppose (says he) a depending 
" measure, by endeavouring to convince the pubiic 
" that it is improper, and ought not to be adopted ; or to 
"promote the repeal of a law already past, by endear 
" vouring to convince the public that it ought to be re- 
"pealed, and that such men ought to be elected to the 
" legislature as will repeal it ; to attempt, in fine, the 
" correction of public measures, by arguments tending 
" to show their improper nature or destructive tendency. 
" never has been or can be considered as sedition, in 
" any country where the principles of law and liberty 
" are respected ; but it is the proper and usual exer- 
" cise of that right of opinion and speech which con- 
" stitutes the distinguishing feature of free govern- 
" ment."* 

In the same letter, No. XXVI, Mr. Adams says "I 
" have a few sheets of paper written on a point on 
" which I differed formerly and latterly with our angry 
" Senator, and which was one of the causes of his re- 
" moval ; which I will send you, provided you will pre- 
" viously give me your honour that you will return it 
" after you have read it, without taking a copy." I 
can only conjecture what was the subject of these 
" sheets of paper ;" that it was the impressing of 
British seamen from neutral merchant vessels. In his 
letter No. XXXII, March 4, 1809, Mr. Adams encloses 
five sheets, " the rough draft," which Cunningham had 
promised to return. " I shall burn it," says Mr. Ad- 
ams, " because I have made another copy more cor- 
" rect, in which I have left out the name, and much of 
" the trumpery." I now recollect reading, about that 
time, an anonymous publication on the subject of im- 
pressments ; and that it was ascribed to President Ad- 
ams as the writer. But I have no recollection of ever 
discussing with Mr. Adams the principle involved in 
the question of impressments ; and it is incredible that 
it should have been a cause of my removal. It is to 
be placed, with many other pretended causes, to after 

* From the answer of Judge Chase to the articles of impeachment against 
him in 1805. 

thoughts ; when, as in the case of instituting the mis- 
sion to France, he was straining his wits to discc-ver 
and disclose reasons, if they bore only " the plausible 
appearance of probability" of satisfying public or in- 
dividual inquirers. 

I believe I have now exhibited all the alleged causes 
of my removal from office except the indefinite one, 
" Reasons of State," but which (see letter XII) Mr. 
Adams says, " are not always to be submitted to news- 
* paper discussion." Of these I have promised to take 
some notice ; and here they are. After the perusal, 
readers will not wonder that Mr. Adams should be un- 
willing to subject them to newspaper discussion. An 
extract from General Hamilton's letter, published in 
1800, "concerning the public conduct and character 
i4 of John Adams, Esq. President of the United States," 
will be a proper introduction to the evidence in the 
case. Referring to the removal of M'Henry and my- 
self, Hamilton says, " It happened at a peculiar junc- 
w ture, immediately after the unfavourable turn" [un- 
favourable to Mr. Adams] " of the election in New- 
" York ; and had much the air of an explosion of com- 
" bustible materials which had been long prepared, but 
" which had been kept down by prudential calculations 
*' respecting the effect of an explosion upon the friends 
" of those ministers in the State of New-York. Per- 
" haps, when it was supposed that nothing could be 
" lost in this quarter, and that something might be 
" gained elsewhere, by an atoning sacrifice of those 
" ministers, especially Mr. Pickering, who had been 
" for some time particularly odious to the opposition 
" party, it was determined to proceed to extremities." 
The reader will compare this with the following de- 

Hazen Kimball, a very worthy man, had been a clerk 
in my office. After quitting the office he settled in 
Savannah. In 1803, being in Massachusetts, and call- 
ing to see me, he gave me information relative to my 
dismission, which I had not expected. Meeting him 
afterwards at Washington (where I was attending as a- 


member of the Senate) I desired him to commit that 
information to writing ; which he did as in the follow- 
ing certificate : 

" At a public table, M'Laughlin's tavern, in Georgetown, July, 1800, 
I heard Elias B. Caldwell say, that some time in May preceding;, he 
was present in a public room at Annapolis, when Mr. Smith, the pre- 
sent secretary of the navy, made the following declaration : That 
we (meaning the democratic party) have been sent down to (from Phi- 
ladelphia) to know on what terms we would support Mr. Adams at 
the next presidential election. In our answer, among other condit.ons, 
was the dismissal of Colonel Pickering from the office of secretary 
of state : but he has delayed it till he lost all hopes of his election by 
the strength of his own party, and now we do not thank him lor it. 

" I have shown this statement to Mr. Caldwell, who says, if it does 
not contain the precise words of Mr. Smith, that it is substantially cor- 

" Mr. Caldwell further says, that Mr. Smith said, in the same pub- 
lic manner, that he knew Colonel Pickering would be dismissed some 
time before it took place. HAZEN KIMBALL." 

" City of Washington, 29th Dec. 1803." 

Having learnt that Thomas C. Bowie, Esq. of Prince 
George's county, Maryland, (whom I did not personally 
know, but who was named to me as " a gentleman of 
high respectability, who had retired from the bar,") 
had had a very particular conversation with Robert 
Smith, on the subject stated in the above certificate, I 
took the liberty, in April, 1810, of addressing a letter 
to him, with a copy of the certificate. The following 
extracts from his answer are all that particularly apply 
to the case in question, 

Extracts of a letter, dated April 16, 18 10, from Thomas C. Bowie, Esq. 
to Timothy Pickering. 

" I assure you, sir, it will be a source of much gratification, if any 
thing in my power can contribute, in the smallest degree, to the ex- 
posure of those gross and palpable delusions which have been so long 
imposed upon the American people, by the abettors of democracy in 
regard to your public character." [Then noticing my official publi- 
cations relative to our rulers, and their management of the affairs of 
the United States, Mr. Bowie says,] " In order to impair the effect 
and universal conviction which they had begun to operate in almost 
every section of the country, it was soon found necessary to make you 
the incessant theme of the most bitter invective and vulgar abuse/' 
u It is impossible for you, sir, to have any adequate idea of the very 
ungenerous, and I may say wicked, expedients resorted to by the de 
mocrats in relation to this subject," 


" I certainly did hear Mr. Secretary Smith make the declaration 
contained in the certificate of Mr. Kimball. A few days before the 
account of your dismissal arrived at Annapolis, L repaired thither, at- 
tf rug the Genera! Court, having just commenced the practice of 
th > law: and, having studied in Baltimore With Judge Chase and Mr. 
Martin, 1 was well acquainted with Mr. Robert Smith, and the Balti- 
more Bar generally, with whom I messed in No. 2, at Wharfe's tav- 
ern, although then a resident of Prince George's county. One morn- 
ing, while in bed, Mr. Smith remarked, that in a few days the lede- 
raiists would recjeive from the seat of government a piece of intelli- 
gence wh ch would both surprise and alarm them. He would not 
impart what it was, but requested me to notice his prediction. When 
the mail brought the news of your dismissal, Mr. Smith told me it wa* 
that, to which he alluded ; and he supposed I would admit he had some 
knowledge of cabinet secrets." " I had understood, a short time pre- 
vious, that Mr. Adams was negotiating with the leading republican 
members of the House of Representatives, a coalition which went to 
secure his twenty-five thousand dollars (a year) at the expense of 
what he himself had deemed the public good, but a little time before : 
that General Smith, and other leading democratic members^ were, on 
the eve of Mr. Adams's expected re-election, frequently dining and 
visiting at his house, and who before that time had never been in the 
habit of either." 

The fact, that I was to be removed, being known 
among the democrats, while federalists were ignorant 
of it, is an irrefragable evidence of the intrigue between 
Mr. Adams and the democrats, to which my removal is 
to be ascribed. 

The reader now sees, in the compass of two or three 
pages, the real cause of my removal by Mr. Adams; 
"the reasons of state," not to be submitted to newspa- 
per discussion. If this statement is sufficient to shock 
every honest and honourable man, what will be his 
feelings when he compares it with this solemn decla- 
ration of Mr. Adams, in his letter No. XII, Oct. 15, 1808, 
when speaking of me ? " His removal was one of the 
44 most deliberate, virtuous and disinterested actions of 
" my life "! And again, on the 25th of November fol- 
lowing (letter No. XVII]) he calls it " one of the most 
" virtuous actions of his ife" ! 

Mr. Kimball's certificate, and the extracts from Mr. 
Bowie's letter, with observations, I published hirteen 
years ago ; only in the certificate I then, of my own 
accord, left blanks where I have now introduced, as in 


the original, the name of Mr. Caldwell. He is the re- 
spectabJ e citizen, Elias B. Caldwell, Esq. of the city of 
Washington, and clerk of the courts there. He also 
knows the excellent character sustained by Mr. Bowie. 

At the time of the former publication (March 1811) 
I made the following, among other, reflections on this 
transaction : " When a man has, at one period of his 
" life, distinguished himself by his public services, it is 
" distressing to find and exhibit him, as capable of 
" straying from the straight path of integrity and 
" truth ; for it tends to excite suspicions and jealousies 
" towards the most upright and inflexibly just." 

In another part of this Review, I mention the efforts 
made by Mr. Adams to justify his unadvised institution 
of a mission to the French Republic, in February 1799, 
when he nominated Mr. Murray sole commissioner to 
negotiate a treaty with its rulers " men so bold, so 
cunning and so false." But as that mission appears to 
have had an origin similar to that of my removal if 
it was not a part, and indeed the important part, of the 
original intrigue I shall here introduce what has come 
to my knowledge concerning it. 

In the year 1815, in conversing with some of my 
friends, of whom the late Thomas P. Grosvenor, a Re- 
presentative in Congress from the State of New-York, 
was one, I said, that for a considerable time I had been 
endeavouring to make some discovery as to the origin 
of that mission ; and that I suspected it to be the same 
with that of my removal an intrigue between Mr. 
Adams and the opposition, or democrats. Grosvenor 
instantly answered in these words : " Why that was 
" the fact : John Nicholas told Judge Van Ness the 
" whole story, and laughed at Mr. Adams's credulity." 

John Nicholas was a Virginian, and for several years 
a member of Congress, in Washington's administration 
and firmly in opposition. At length he removed to 
the State of New-York ; where, as I have understood, 
he was appointed a Judge of the Court of the County 
in which he resided, and a Senator for the District, in 
the Senate of that State. Judge Van Ness was the late 


William P. Van Ness, of the Supreme Court of New- 

Here the matter rested for some years ; after which, 
being in company with a number of members of Con- 
gress, and the conversation turning on some past events, 
particularly the mission to France in 1799, in the midst 
of our successful naval hostilities with that power 
without the previous mention of it by the President to 
any head of a department, or to any federalist in or out of 
Congress, as far as was then known one of the gentle- 
men said, that when John Dennis* returned from Con- 
gress, after that session, he said in his hearing, and in the 
hearing of many others, That a Committee of Three wait- 
ed on Mr. Adams, and told him, that if he would insti- 
tute a mission to make peace with France, and dismiss 
the Secretary of War, Mr. M'Henry, and of State, Mr. 
Pickering, they would not oppose or they would sup- 
port his re-election to the Presidency. Immediately 
afterwards, I mentioned this information to another 
member, of my acquaintance : he confirmed it as re- 
ceived by him from another source ; and named for 
his author the same gentleman, a member of Congress 
in 1799, who, the late Gouverneur Morris once told 
me, negotiated my removal. 

The veil being now taken off from the two acts of 
President Adams, of which no federalist could give a 
satisfactory solution, the embarrassments attending his 
laborious attempts to justify those acts, and his glaring 
inconsistencies, are easily accounted for. The fruit* 
of his toil on these subjects, as displayed in the letters 
published in 1809 in the Boston Patriot, and those 
written in 1808 and 1809 to Cunningham, and lately 
published by Cunningham's son, would cover nearly a 
hundred printed pages in octavo ; whereas, had they 
originated in considerations purely public, the honest 
and satisfactory truth might have been expressed in a 
single page. TRUTH alone is clear and consistent. 

With respect to the French mission at one time 
Mr. Adams says, the information derived from his min- 

* Mr. Dennis was a representative from the Eastern shore of Maryland, 


ister, Mr. Gerry, formed a full and complete basis on 
which to institute the mission. Yet, in December, 
1798, after he had been for above two months in pos- 
session of all that information, and of more, of one 
kind and another in addressing Congress, he said, 
" To send another minister, without more determinate 
^ assurances that he would be received, would be an 
" act of humiliation to which the United States ought 
" not to submit:" and on the 12th of that month, in 
answer to an address from the Senate, he said, " I have 
" seen no real evidence of any change of system or dis- 
" position in the French Republic towards the United 
" States*" At other times, Talleyrand's letter to Pi- 
chon, who communicated it to Mr. Murray, furnished 
the assurances he had required, of the due reception of 
an envoy. Mr. Adams's words are, " This letter was 
" transmitted by Mr. Murray to the American overn- 
" ment, and I own I am not acquainted with any words, 
" either in the French or English language, which could 
u have expressed in a more solemn, a more explicit, or 
M a more decided manner, assurances of all that I had 
" demanded as conditions of negotiation." 4 Yet, when, 
ten years before, he nominated Mr. Murray to the 
Senate, and sent them a copy of Talleyrand's letter, he 
declares to that body (in order to conciliate and ob- 
tain their approbation) that Mr. Murray " shall not go 
" to France without direct and unequivocal assurances 
" from the French government, signified by their min- 
w ister of foreign relations, that he shall be received in 
" character." 

I have said, that Mr. Gerry's long letter to me, dated 
Oct. 1, 1798, in the harbour of Boston, on the morning 
of his arrival, was written on his passage from France, 
and studiously prepared, to put the best face on his 
conduct while in Paris. In that letter he says, " Be- 
" fore the arrival of the despatches of the envoys, the 
" minister [Talleyrand] appeared o me sincere, and 
" anxious to obtain a reconciliation." And again, " On 
" the 26th of July I left Paris ; and from the best in- 

* Letter III. dated April 1809, published by Mr. Adams in the Boston Patriot, 


** formation which I could obtain relative to the dispo- 
** sition of the Executive Directory (for I never had 
" any direct communication with them) they were very 
" desirous of a reconciliation between the republics." 
A I this is very courteous and charitable towards the 
French rulers and their minister Talleyrand, from 
wh )in he had received, and with tame submission, the 
m >st pointed insults. But see his language eleven 
years afterwards, when his former communications 
were not recollected, or were forgotten, and when he 
expressed his real sentiments the same that remained 
stamped on his mind from the deep impressions made 
upon it by the actual occurrences in Paris. These 
sentiments are found in his letter dated at Cambridge, 
in July, 1809, addressed to Mr. Talleyrand, and pub- 
lished, with Mr. Adams's letter, in the Boston Patriot 
of August 26. It was written in reference to one of 
Talleyrand's letters to Pichon (that dated August 28, 
1798) which also Mr. Adams had published in the Bos- 
ton Patriot This letter contained an expression some- 
what contemptuous, in regard to his friend and " HIS 
minister," Mr. Gerry, at which he took offence. Tal- 
leyraud said, " I wished to encourage Mr. Gerry by 
" testimonies of regard, that his good intentions merited, 
" although I could not dissemble that he wanted deci- 
" sion at a moment when he might have easily adjust- 
" ed every thing. It does not thence follow that I de- 
" signated him : / will even avow that I think him too 
" irresolute to be fit to hasten the conclusion of an of- 
"fair of this kind" On this Mr. Gerry makes a point- 
ed appeal to Talleyrand : " Let any candid man read 
" our correspondence, and declare, if he can, that your 
"propositions were not altogether vague, from the be- 
" ginning to the end" 

I have one more case to mention, on which I shall 
be sparing of comments, and content myself with a 
brief statement of facts : it is the case of Fries, of Penn- 
sylvania, twice convicted of treason ; the second time 
on a new trial, ordered on a supposed incorrectness 
discovered after the firt conviction, and allowed by 

the court, though not affecting the fact* on which the 
prosecution had taken place, nor the construction of 
the law applied to the facts ; in other words, not affect- 
ing the merits of the case. Judge Iredell, of the Su- 
preme Court of the United States, presided on the first 
trial, and was assisted by Judge Peters, the District 
Judge of Pennsylvania, At the second trial, Judge 
Chase presided, and Judge Peters sat with him. The 
first trial had occupied nine days. Judge Chase con- 
sidered, that much irrelevant matter had been suffered 
to be introduced in the first trial, in respect to cases in 
English books, occurring in times and under circum- 
stances which rendered them inadmissible on trials, for 
treason under the Constitution of the United States ; 
and made known this opinion, in writing, that such 
cases would not be permitted to be introduced in the 
trial of Fries. Upon this, William Lewis and A. J. 
Dallas, of counsel for Fries, refused to act ; and advis- 
ed Fries not to accept of any other counsel, should the 
court offer to assign any ; which advice Fries accept* 
ed. On the 24th of April, 1800, the trial commenced. 
On the evening of the second day, the evidence was 
closed ; and the court charged the jury ; who, retiring 
for two hours, brought in a verdict of guilty.* On the 
second day of May, (the last day of the session) Fries 
was brought into court, and received sentence of death. 
Mr. Lewis, in his deposition (to be used on the im- 
peachment of Judge Chase) states, that, soon after sen- 
tence of death had been pronounced on Fries, Thomas 
Adams, son of the President, told him, that " his father 
" wished to know the points and authorities which Mr. 
" Dallas and he had intended to rely on, in favour of 
" Fries, if they had defended him on the trial. The 
" Attorney General of the United States, Charles Lee, 
" made the like request to Mr. Lewis and Mr. Dallas. 
& These gentlemen made their statement accordingly, 

* This brief sketch I have abstracted from the deposition of William Rawle, 
Esq. (who as district attorney conducted the prosecution) taken to be used in 
the trial of Judge Chase, on his impeachment. Mr. Rawle remarks, that thr 
trial was conducted with the utmost fairness, and that the conduct of the court 
Was marked with great tenderness and humanity towards the prisoner. 


'* and sent it to Mr. Lee ; who, on the 19th of May, 
" acknowledged the receipt of it, and informed them 
" that he had immediately ^aid the same before the 
" President, who had directed him to return to them 
" his thanks for the trouble they had so obligingly 
" taken." It would not have been difficult to antici- 
pate the consequence of consulting, in this case, only 
the counsel of the convict : Fries was pardoned. It was 
^popular act, in Pennsylvania. My removal from office 
was on the 12th of the same month of May, as I have al- 
ready stated, with its motives. I content myself with just 
remarking, that Mr. Adams sought not any information 
in this case from the persons best qualified to give it 
impartially the Judges of the Court ; especially when 
the presiding Judge was Samuel Chase, his old Con- 
gressional friend, of whom he gives this honourable 
character : " I have long wished for a fair opportunity 
" of transmitting to posterity my humble testimony to 
" the virtues and talents of that able and upright ma- 
gistrate and statesman."* Nor would it have been 
amiss to have applied to William Rawle, District At- 
torney of Pennsylvania, who had conducted both the 
trials, and from whose fair mind might have been ex^- 
pected information quite as correct as that which could 
be derived from the counsel of the convict. But if to 
pardon was the object, it was expedient to consult his 
counsel only. Mr. Dallas, in his deposition (also taken 
in the case of the impeachment of Judge Chase) avow* 
ed the leading motive with him and Mr. Lewis, in 
eventually refusing to act as counsel for Fries. He 
says, " I may be permitted, likewise, to discharge a 
" duty to the counsel, as well as to all the parties in- 
" terested, in observing, that Mr. Lewis and myself 
" were greatly influenced, in the conduct which we 
" pursued, by our opinion of the means most likely to 
" save the life of Fries, under all the circumstances of 
" the case." Judge Chase says, they refused to ap- 
pear for Fries, " because they knew the law and the 
*' fact to be against them, and the case to be desperate ; 

* Letter II, dated April 1809, published in the Boston Patriot. 



" and supposed that their withdrawing themselves [tin- 
" der the circumstances above intimated] in the event 
" of a conviction, which from their knowledge of the 
" law and the facts they knew to be almost certain,* 
" might aid the prisoner in an application to the Presi- 
" dent for a pardon."! 

General Hamilton (in the letter of 1800, on the con- 
duct and character of Mr. Adams) noticing this case of 
Fries, and the extraordinary step of consulting only 
the culprit's counsel, makes this reflection on the par- 
don : " We are driven to seek a solution for it in some 
" system of concession to his political enemies ; a sys- 
" tern the most fatal for himself, and for the cause of 
" public order, of any that he could possibly devise. 
" It is by temporisings like these, that men at the head 
" of affairs lose the respect both of friends and foes : 
" it is by temporisings like these, that in times of fer- 
" mentation and commotion, governments are prostrat- 
" ed, which might easily have been upheld by an erect 
" and imposing attitude." 

The reflections of Mr. Adams are of quite a diffe- 
rent complexion. In his tenth letter in the Boston 
Patriot (May 17, 1809) remarking on his responsibility 
for all his executive acts, and therefore that it was 
his right and duty to be governed by his own mature 
and unbiassed judgment, though unfortunately it may 
be in direct contradiction to the advice of all his min- 
isters, he says, " This was my situation in more than 
" one instance. It had been so in the nomination of 
" Mr. Gerry ; it was afterwards so in the pardon of 
" Fries : two measures that I recollect with infinite 
" satisfaction, and which will console me in my last 
" hour." 

How much cause for satisfaction and consolation he 
can find in the case of Mr. Gerry, the reader will be 
able to judge, from the proceedings exhibited in this 
Review, of that gentleman as Mr. Adams's minister to 
the French Republic. As to Fries, he having been at 

* Lewis and Dallas were Fries' counsel on his first trial, and therefore per- 
fectly acquainted with the merits of the case. 
f Judge Chase's Defence before the Senate. 


the head of a second insurrection in Pennsylvania, to 
prevent, by force, the execution of the laws enacted 
by Congress for levying taxes laid in pursuance of the 
express provisions of the Constitution, and, in 1798, of 
the most pressing necessity, for the common defence 
of the country, and the protection of its great and 
essential commercial interests, against the hostilities of 
the French Republic ; under these circumstances, the 
public welfare appeared to demand a signal example 
of inflexible justice. 

We see, however, that in various acts of President 
Adams, combined with their apparent motives, he can 
glory, and draw consolation, where other men would 
find cause only for profound regret. 

Those, who have been accustomed to view Mr. Ad- 
ams as a bold and able leader in the American Revolu- 
tion ; as a man of extensive learning, and much and 
useful experience ; as a great and upright statesman ; 
and therefore entitled to all the high offices and hon- 
ours- which his fellow citizens could bestow, and did 
confer upon him ; will be astonished at the picture of 
his character presented in this Review 7 , and not with- 
out difficulty admit that it is a likeness. My veracity 
is pledged for all I state as facts. What I give on in- 
formation from others, I offer because I think it enti- 
tled to belief. Of the correctness of my inferences and 
conjectures from any facts and circumstances which I 
state, every reader will judge. If, after all, any should 
remain incredulous, Mr. Adams himself may at least 
contribute to remove their unbelief. In the 26th letter, 
vol. I, p. 129, London edition, of his "Defence of the 
Constitutions of Government of the United States of 
America," the doubting reader may find a solution of 
the apparent enigma. There Mr. Adams says, " The 
" passions are all unlimited ; nature has left them so : 
" if they could be bounded, they would be extinct ; 
" and there is no doubt they are of indispensable im- 
M portance in the present system. They certainly in* 
" crease too, by exercise, like the body. The love of 
" gold grows faster than the heap of acquisition. The 


" love of praise increases by every gratification ; till it 
" stings like an adder, and bites like a serpent ; till the 
" man is miserable every moment when he does not snuff 
" the incense. AMBITION strengthens at every advance, 
" and at last takes possession of the whole soul so ab- 
" solutely, that the man sees nothing in the world of im- 
" parlance to others, or himself, but in this object. The 
" subtlety of these three passions, which have been se- 
" lected from all the others because they are aristocratical 
" passions, in subduing all others, and even the under- 
" standing itself, if not the CONSCIENCE too, until they 
" become absolute and imperious masters of the whole 
" mind, is a curious speculation." He then mentions 
" the cunning with which they hide themselves from 
" others, and from the man himself too ; the patience 
" with which they wait for opportunities ; the torments 
" they voluntarily suffer for a time, to secure a full en- 
" joyment at length." 

On this recital, who can forbear to exclaim, " Ecce 
Homo !" or, in the solemn words of Nathan to David, 
" Thou art the man !" 

Mr. Adams would spurn at an exhortation from me ; 
but he may not refuse to apply to himself his own ad- 
monition. " Men should endeavour at a balance of af- 
" fections and appetites, under the monarchy of REASON 
" and CONSCIENCE within, as well as at a balance of pow- 
" er without. If they surrender the guidance, for any 
" course of time, to any one passion, they may depend 
" upon finding it, in the end, an usurping, domineering, 
" cruel tyrant." 1 * 

At the age of eighty eight years, it might be expect- 
ed that a man's strong passions would have cooled ; 
but those of Mr. Adams, by an immoderate indulgence, 
have acquired the mastery of his soul ; and now, inca- 
pable of personally enjoying their gratification, he 
lives in his son ; and, if he survive a few more months, 
he will be pleased or tormented, as that son shall sue-, 
ceed or fail, in the last object to which American am- 
bition can aspire. 

* Same volume, p. 130. 


In the account here given of the intrigue in which 
the precipitate institution of the mission to France ori- 
ginated, compared with Mr. Adams's too often repeated 
avowals of public motives exclusively, every reader will 
have the means of forming his opinion, whether these, 
or others purely selfish, the offspring of his ungoverned 
ruling passions, were the decisive inducements. But 
although he readily adopted the measure, it may easily 
be imagined that it was the contrivance of a more cool 
and crafty head of the man of whom that experienced 
diplomatist, Mr. Liston, once said, that, " for conducting 
" an intrigue, there was not one American who came 
;i within a thousand miles of him."* This crafty per- 
son perfectly understood the character of Mr. Adams, 
and knew the avenues to his heart. Mr. Liston said, 
at the same time, " that never, at any government where 
" he had been a minister, had he so little trouble in gain- 
" ing all desirable information : that from Mr. Adams 
" himself he obtained what he wanted ; for that noth- 
" ing more was requisite than to listen, while he took 
" his own course in talking." This brings to my mind 
an anecdote, of late accidentally communicated to me. 
Mr. Adams paid a handsome compliment to Washing- 
ton, and said, " HE could keep his mouth shut / never 
could" And this again reminds me of a letter written 
to me some years ago by a gentleman of respectable 
character, of which the following is an extract : 

" Some time in the fall of 1807 I was in company 

" with General Henry Lee, at in Virginia. Dur- 

" ing the day, various topics of conversation were in- 
" troduced. Among others, some remarks were made 
" upon the unhappy consequences which had resulted 
" from the change in the Federal Administration of the 
" Government of the United States. And this change 
" was in a great measure, by the person submitting 
" these remarks, attributed to the apathy and inertness 
" of Federalists at elections. General Lee replied, that 

* I received this anecdote from an unquestionably correct source, a very 
intelligent American gentleman present in the company when the remark 
was made. 


" he did not hesitate to allow some influence to that 
" cause ; but that he ascribed the principal cause to 
" Mr. Adams himself; and then remarked, That being 
" in Philadelphia in the summer of 1800, when the sub- 
" ject of the approaching presidential election had ex- 
" cited much interest, he dined with Mr. Adams, in ccm- 
" pany with Mr. Jefferson. In the afternoon, when Mr. 
" Jefferson had retired, he took the liberty to caution 
" Mr. Adams, who had been, as he considered, very un- 
" guarded in the presence of Mr. Jefferson ; and cb- 
" served, with the view to enforce that caution, that he 
" knew Mr. Jefferson was using all his influence and 
" intrigue to supersede him in the presidential chair. 
" Mr. Adams received this friendly admonition with ap- 
" parent displeasure ; and observed, with warmth, that 
" he believed Mr. Jefferson to be more friendly towards 
" him, than many who professed to be his friends ; and 
" that he further believed, Mr. Jefferson never had the 
" ambition or desire to aspire to any higher distinction 
" than to be his First Lieutenant." 

So respectable is the source of this information, that 
it requires no confirmation. It has, besides, the advan* 
tage of internal evidence of its correctness, in the per- 
fectly characteristic answer of Mr. Adams, which con- 
cludes the extract. This, probably, was the time when 
Mr. Jefferson was making his warmest professions of 
friendship to Mr. Adams, of which the latter afterwards 
found he had been the dupe; and the discovery of 
which authorized him to reproach Mr. Jefferson with 
" a want of sincerity." Three years before, Mr. Jeffer- 
son had proclaimed his humble pretensions, in his in- 
augural address to the Senate, when he took the chair 
in that assembly ; he having been elected Vice-Presi- 
dent, as Mr. Adams was elected President, of the Uni- 
ted States. Mr. Jefferson appeared to rejoice that the 
burthen of the chief executive power had fallen on Mr. 
Adams's shoulders, so much abler than his own to sustain 
its weight ! Remarking to the Senate, that the primary 
business of the office of Vice-President being to preside 
over the forms of that house, he added, " No one more 


u sincerely prays that no accident may call me to the 
" higher and more important functions which the con- 
" stitution devolves on this office." This profession 
was unnecessary but not without an object. To the 
uninformed (in all communities the numerous class) as 
to the true characters of public men, it bore the appear- 
ance of the amiable virtue of humility ; and Mr. Jeffer- 
son believed in its auspicious tendency to advance his 
interest on the next occasion ; not doubting, in refe- 
rence either to philosophy or the gospel, the correct- 
ness of the position, " He that humbleth himself shall 
be exalted." Among those in public life, or the citi- 
zens well acquainted with distinguished public cha- 
racters, there was one, and I presume but one, in the 
United States, who supposed Mr. Jefferson's declara- 
tion to have come from the heart : I hardly need say, 
that this one was Mr. Adams. 

Mr. Adams catches at every straw, and sometimes 
at phantoms, which, in the use he makes of them, may 
have even a remote tendency to give a colour of neces- 
sity for instituting his extraordinary mission to the 
French Republic in 1799. For this end, he allows 
himself to go back to the year 1793, to exhibit the 
temoer of the people in relation to France and Great- 
Britain; and tells the following tale: "Jonathan Dick- 
" inson Sargeant and Dr. Hutchinson, two old revolu- 
" tionary Americans, extremely popular, put themselves 
" at the head of the mob. Washington's house was 
" surrounded by an innumerable multitude, from day to 
" day, huzzaing, demanding war against England, curs- 
" ing Washington, and crying success to the French 

" patriots and virtuous republicans." " J. Q. Ad- 

" ams first turned this tide ; and the yellow fever com- 
" pleted the salvation of Washington. Sargeant and 
" Hutchinson died of it. I was assured, soon after, by 
" some of the most sensible, substantial and intelligent 
" Quakers, that nothing but the yellow fever saved 
" Washington from being dragged out of his house, or 
w being compelled to declare war against England."* 

* Letter to Cunning-ham, No. XIT, Oct. 15, 1808. 


This story was too absurd and ridiculous believ- 
ed. When writing it, Mr. Adams forgot that the Pre- 
sident of the United States did not possess the power 
to declare war ; and that no leader of a mob in Phila- 
delphia could be so ignorant as not to know that Con- 
gress alone possessed that power. I do not know 
whether Dr. Hutchinson left any offspring ; but the 
respectable sons of Mr. Sargeant w r ill not thank Mr. 
Adams for placing their father, an eminent lawyer, and 
the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, at the head of a 
mob, and of a mob to commit such an outrage on the 
President of the United States and that President, 
Washington. Incredible, however, as was this story 
of which I had never heard before I wrote to William 
Hawle, Esq. at that time the District Attorney of the 
Uai ^ed States for Pennsylvania ; and, referring him to 
Mr. Adams's statement, requested an answer. In his 
letter, dated the 18th of last December, he thus writes : 
" In respect to the mob asserted to have surrounded 
" the President's house, &c. &c. Judge Peters and I 
" have already had several conversations. We read 
" this part of the Cunningham Correspondence with 
" surprise, as we neither of us at the time knew, nor 
" till then had heard, of such transactions. The Judge 
" lived out of town, but was frequently in town. I resided 
" about three of our squares distant from the President, 
" passed his door almost every day, and regularly at- 
" tended his weekly levees. I never noticed the slight- 
" est disturbance of the kind. Mr. Sargeant and Dr. 
" Hutchinson, although zealous in their politics, were 
" not men who would have so degraded themselves*" 

Where, let me now ask, could this mob story have 
its origin ? It is a sheer fabrication. But who was 
its artificer ? Mr. Adams is responsible for it. And 
it further shows the justness of the remark I have had 
occasion to make and to repeat, that where his pas- 
sions or interested views are enlisted, no reliance can 
be placed on his statements. 

Hamilton acknowledged, and every other well-in- 
formed man will acknowledge, that Mr" Adams, in 1798, 

contributed largely to rouse the spirit of the nation to 
resistance against the unexampled insults and injuries 
we had experienced from the French Republic ; and 
he boasts of the beneficial operation of the measures 
then taken, and of our naval successes in the limited 
war authorized by Congress ; when, as he says, * " the 
" proud pavilion of France was, in many glaring in- 
stances, humiliated under the eagles and stripes of 
" the United States." But the greatest triumph of all, 
he says, was in the humiliation of the haughty Direc- 
tory ; who, renouncing all their unfounded claims, 
sought for peace " transmitting to him the most posi- 
" tive assurances, in several various ways, both official 
" and inofficial, that they would receive his ministers, 
" and make peace on his own terms" These last words 
are, assuredly, a fond assumption of Mr. Adams. The 
Directory could never have entertained the idea of 
giving Mr. Adams a carte blanche, on which to write 
what articles he pleased. It is too absurd to be ima- 
gined, except by Mr. Adams when his mind was high- 
ly sublimated. Had such an offer been made, it would 
have furnished additional ground for believing the Di- 
rectory were not sincere. But, unfortunately, in the 
heyday of victory, when the United States were rising 
in their own estimation, and were cheered by the salu- 
tations of admiring Europe, the American Admiral 
struck his flag ; the " Proud Pavilion of France" rose 
above the " Eagles and the Stripes ;" and, instead of 
" making peace on his own terms," he received the law 
from France. He even gave up the trophies of our vic- 
tories ; stipulating to restore to France her national ves- 
sels captured by ours. He purchased peace at the ex- 
pense of twenty millions of dollars (for that was the 
estimated amount of French spoliations) relinquished 
to France, without any equivalent. For the United 
States had been fairly exonerated of the burthen of 
their treaties with France, by her " infractions, vio- 
" lence, injustice, and breach of faith ;"t and Congress 

* Letter No. XXX, Feb. 22, 1809, to Cunningham. 

f The words, marked with inverted commas, are Mr. Adams's, in letter 
XXX, to Cunningham. 



accordingly declared them null and void. But the 
French government would not consent to give any in- 
demnities to the American merchants, for those spolia- 
tions of their property, unless the United States would 
revive and restore the treaty of alliance, with its bur- 
thensome guarantee. To get rid of this, the claims of 
the merchants were abandoned. 

Such were the fruits of the glorious naval war of 
1798, and of the inglorious peace by which it was ter- 
minated. Yet, Mr. Adams fondly expects, that for 
these acts in his administration, laurels will crown his 
monument, and flourish in immortal green. " If ever," 
says he, " If ever an historian should arise, fit for the 
" investigation, this transaction must be transmitted to 
" posterity as the most glorious period of American 
" history, as the most disinterested, prudent and suc- 
" cessful conduct in my whole life. For I was obliged 
" to give peace and unexampled prosperity to my 
" country for eight years and if it is not for a longer 
" duration, it is not my fault against the advice, en- 
" treaties and intrigues of all my ministers, and all the 
" leading Federalists in both houses of Congress." 

This rodomontade of Mr. Adams is perfectly in char- 
acter. It is akin to another fond conceit of his, which 
we find in his 28th letter (July 27, 1809) published in 
the Boston Patriot the last paragraph : " I shall con- 
" tinue," says he, " to send you extracts of letters, by 
" which the rise, progress and conclusion of our con- 
" nexion with Holland may be in some degree under- 
" stood ; a connexion that accelerated the peace, more 
" than the capture of Cornwallis and his army." Who 
can forbear to smile at the folly as well as the vanity 
of this assumption ? Cornwallis surrendered on the 
18th of October, 1781. On the 27th of February, 
1782, a resolution was carried, in the House of Com- 
mons, against the whole force of the administration, de- 
claring it to be inexpedient any longer to prosecute 
offensive war against America. And, to put an end to 
all further hesitation on the part of the crown, the 
House of Commons, on the fourth of March, resolved. 

' 107 

* that the house will consider as enemies to his majes- 
" ty and the country, all those who should advise or 
" attempt a further prosecution of offensive war on the 
" continent of America." These votes were soon fol- 
lowed by a change of administration, and by instruc- 
tions to the commanding officers of his Britannic ma- 
jesty's forces in America, which conformed to them.* 

In the summer following, a British minister was sent 
to Paris to negotiate a treaty of ,peace with the Com- 
missioners of the United States. The important pre- 
liminary step had been insisted on and obtained by 
Mr. Jay that the United States were to be treated 
with as already independent. He gave notice of this 
to Mr. Adams, who was in Holland, and who arrived 
in Paris some time after the middle of October. On 
the 30th of November, 1782, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams 
^andMr. Jay signed the preliminary treat}^ of peace with 
Great-Britain, which constituted, in fact, the definitive 

Now the connexion (by which I presume Mr. Ad- 
ams means the treaty) with Holland, negotiated by 
him, was not concluded until the 8th of October, 1782 ; 
almost a year after the capture of Cornwallis, and when 
the Dutch government knew the negotiations for peace 
between the United States and Great-Britain had been 
for some time going on at Paris. Hence it is past all 
doubt, that the resolutions of the House of Commons, 
the consequent change in the British ministry, and the 
negotiations begun at Paris, decisively influenced their 
High Mightinesses to conclude the commercial treaty 
with Mr. Adams. This inference appears inevitable, 
if we take a view of the deplorable state of Holland, 
after England had made war upon her, and cut up her 
commerce by extensive captures. I will take Mr. Ad- 
ams's own description, in one of his letters to Con- 
gress the epitome of similar information spread over 
other letters. In that of the 4th of August, 1781, he 
says, " I should scarcely be credited, if I were to de- 
" scribe the present state of this country. There is 

* Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. IV, p. 567. 


" more animosity against one another, than again:* i the 
" common enemy. They can agree upon nothing ; 
" neither upon war nor peace ; neither upon ackhow- 
" ledgmg the independence of America nor upon de- 
" nying it." Again, in the same letter, he says, " In 
" short, this nation has no confidence left in its own 
" wisdom, courage, virtue or power. It has no esteem, 
" nor passion, nor desire, for either. It loves and seeks 
" wealth, and that alone."* 

One word more on Mr. Adams's mission of Februa- 
ry 1799, to make peace with the French Republic. 

This mission was instituted in the midst of our na- 
val successes, and of the increasing spirit of the peo- 
ple. But for this, the system of administration which 
had been established under Washington, and until then 
continued under Adams, would have remained. The 
true character of the French government had been de- 
veloped, and generally understood and consequently 
was generally detested. Our proper weapon of war, 
our navy, would have been strengthened by an ade- 
quate increase ; our commerce would have revived 
and flourished. On the change of the French revolu- 
tionary government, by which its powers were placed 
in the hands of Bonaparte, the spirit, vigour and ability 
which the United States had displayed, and \vould 
have continued to display, would have secured to them 
the respect of that extraordinary man, and saved them 
from renewed insults, and their commerce from the 
more extended and aggravated depredations under the 
Imperial Ruler, than had been experienced from the 
despotic Directory. The United States would not 
have been told by Bonaparte's minister, that those who 
administered their government were " men without 
" just political views, without honour, without ener- 
" gy" an insult unexampled, and, what is worse, an 
INSULT uNRESENTED.t Had that first system of the federal 
government continued to operate, we should have had 
no indefinite embargo, prostrating our commerce, in 

* Letter LXIII, dated FeK 8, 1810, in the Boston Patriot, 
f Letter of Feb. 14, 1810, from the French minister, the duke de Cadore, 
to General Armstrong. Madison was then President. 


subserviency to France ; nor its sequel, the non-inter- 
course laws, in their effects and consequences alike de- 
structive ; nor, finally, a three years' war with Great- 
Britain ; a war which cost the United States more 
than a hundred millions of dollars, and the lives of pro- 
bably thirty thousand of our citizens, without obtaining 
any one of the objects for which it was professed to be 

Dr. Johnson has observed, that " there is nothing 
" more dreadful to an author than neglect ; compared 
44 with which, reproach, hatred, and opposition, are 
" names of happiness." Mr. Adams felt himself to be 
in this unfortunate situation. He began to publish his 
long letters in the Boston Patriot on the 10th of April 
1 809 ; and in two months he had advanced to his 
eighteenth letter the subject, his unadvised mission to 
France. But it seems no notice was taken of them, 
by friend or foe. " A most profound silence," says he, 
" is observed relative to my scribbles. I say not a 
46 word about them to any one ; and nobody says a 
" word to me. The newspapers are still as midnight." 
But, unwilling to think this silence resulted from gen- 
eral indifference to his letters (though doubtless that 
was the fact) he fancied that " sulphureous combusti- 
44 bles were preparing under ground, and the electrical 
" fire collecting in the clouds," to burst upon him all 
at once, to destroy him : but, consoling himself with 
the expectation that he might escape unhurt from the 
thunder and lightning, and the eruption of the volcano, 
he determines that 44 his pen shall go as long as his 
;4 fingers can hold it."* Some of his well-wishers, per- 
ceiving that in his own bosom the lightning and the 
fiery lava were preparing, may regret that they ever 
found vent, satisfied that in the end the explosion and 
eruption will not injure those he meant to destroy, and 
that the great sufferer will be himself. They may see 
verified his own assertion, that " records themselves" 
[his letters were designed for records] "are often liars ;" 
and his prediction fulfilled, that " he should not be be- 
lieved." The statements and evidences, which I have 

* Letter XXXVTTT, June 7, 1809, to Cunningham. 


exhibited, must convince every impartial reader, that 
his records are not entitled to belief. 

Mr. Adams often complains that the federalists are 
his enemies ; sometimes limiting the charge to their 
leaders. If this were true, what was the cause ? The 
federalists wished to retain their ascendency, for their 
own sake and their country's ; and every body of men, 
every association, will have a leader or leaders. Mr. 
Adams was once their chief. And what produced an 
alienation ? Their principles and system of govern- 
ment remained unchanged. To the conduct of their 
chief, then, must their alienation be ascribed. And 
how was it possible for men of intelligent and inde- 
pendent minds to persevere in their confidence, and 
continue their attachment, where they saw, constantly 
displayed, boundless vanity, disgusting egotism, repul- 
sive self-sufficiency, and an ambition so inordinate as 
to be capable of sacrificing principles, system and con- 
sistency, to personal gratification ? 

Was Mr. Jay ever reproached by smy federalist, that 
deserved the name ? With eminent abilities, with as 
pure integrity, and true zeal to serve his country, as 
any citizen ever displayed, he was driven from power 
by the enemies of federalism. But the profound re- 
spect, which his public conduct had produced, has suf- 
fered no diminution. Still revered, admired and loved, 
his name, without a stain to lessen its lustre, will de- 
scend to posterity with distinguished brightness. 


THIS gentleman makes so prominent a figure in Mr. 
Adams's letters, in relation both to himself and to me, 
I must unavoidably consume a good deal of ink and 
paper in exhibiting his conduct and character. I re- 


gret the necessity of entering on details, which I fear 
may fatigue the reader, but without which the force of 
Mr. Adams's calumnies and of my vindication cannot 
be fully understood. This biographical sketch of Mr. 
Gerry, though in some respects minute, may never- 
theless be found in a degree interesting, when it shall 
be recollected, that, subsequently to the actions and 
events detailed, he was twice elected by the people of 
Massachusetts to be Governor of that State, and after- 
wards by the people of the United States to be their 

Mr. Gerry, appointed a delegate to Congress from 
Massachusetts, in 1776, had the good fortune to be pre- 
sent at the adoption of the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence, and the honour of subscribing his name to that 
celebrated state paper. He continued a member of 
that body for some years. He was also a member of 
the National Convention by which the present Consti- 
tution of the United States was formed (and carped at 
some of its provisions) and a member of the House of 
Representatives in the first Congress, and in one or 
two of the succeeding Congresses. 

The financial embarrassments of the French Monar- 
chy produced, about the year 1787, a crisis, which, in 
a succession of remedial measures and reforms, issued 
in the subversion of the Monarchy, and the establish- 
ment of a Republic. The people of the United States, 
flourishing and happy in their own republican institu- 
tions, rejoiced in the prospect of a free government to 
be established in France. This joy was raised to en- 
thusiasm, by the recollection of the aids received from 
that country in effecting their own independence. A 
war between France and her neighbours soon succeed- 
ed. * The energies of her government, and the zeal of 
the people, brought powerful armies into the field ; 
which enabled her to defeat her enemies, and to invade 
their territories. In a few years, the neighbouring na- 
tions were subdued. Her pride increased with her 
conquests ; and her injustice was not slow to follow in 
their train. " I considered (says the wise man) all the 


" oppressions that are done under the sun and on the 
" side of the oppressors there was POWER." A series of 
unprincipled rulers governed the state, and in succes- 
sion cut off the heads of their predecessors. At length 
a constitution was formed, and a government organized, 
on republican principles, which gave hopes, to the 
lovers of liberty, of a permanent establishment. The 
legislature was composed of two branches, denominat- 
ed the Council of Ancients, and the Council of Five 
Hundred ; and the executive consisted of five per- 
sons, called the Directory. But the revolutionary 
spirit continued. The executive power found the 
means of impairing the independence of the legisla- 
ture ; and, practising much tyranny at home, set no 
limits to its exercise on all the nations within its I'^icli. 
Remote as were the United States, their Commerce 
brought them near to every portion of the world. 
Upon various pretences, all alike unfounded, the cor- 
sairs of France were let loose upon that commerce, and 
her government insulted our country. 

Willing to hope that these outrages and injuries ori- 
ginated in misrepresentations and misconceptions of 
the conduct an^ views of the United States in relation 
to France, President Washington appointed General 
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney minister plenipotentiary 
to the French Republic, to make to its government 
those frank and friendly explanations, which, if received 
in the spirit with which they were to be offered, would 
restore harmony and a beneficial intercourse between 
the two countries. General Pinckney, accepting the 
appointment, proceeded on his mission, and early in 
December, 1796, arrived at Paris. He was introduced 
to the minister for foreign affairs, Mr. de la Croix^ by 
Mr. Monroe, as his successor in the station of minister 
plenipotentiary from the United States ; and in that 
character delivered an official copy of his letters of cre- 
dence, which announced his public character, under 
the signature of the President and the great seal of the 
United States. General Pinckney's public character 
being thus ascertained, all the indignities practised to- 


Wards him by the French government were insults as 
well to the country which he represented, as to himself. 
Anxious, however, to restore that harmony which once 
existed between America and France, Pinckney for- 
bore to resent this treatment, hoping that a reconcilia- 
tion might yet be effected. But he was disappointed, 
and was re quired to leave Franca Upon this requisi* 
tion he quitted Paris, and travelled with his family to 
Amsterdam, there to await the orders of his govern- 
ment. General Pinckney might bear those indignities 
with the more patience, because they were not peculiar 
to him. In one of his letters to the Department of 
State, he says, " I am informed that they have already 
" sent off thirteen foreign ministers ; and a late emi- 

^ant,* now here, has assured them, that America is 
" not 01 greater consequence to them, nor ought to be 
" treated with greater respect, than Geneva or Genoa." 
" Those who regard us as being of some consequence 
" (continues General Pinckney) seem to have taken up 
" an idea, that our government acts upon principles op- 
" posed to the real sentiments of a large majority of our 
" people ; and they are willing to temporise until the 
" event of the election of President is known ; thinking, 
" if one public character [Adams] is chosen, he will be 
" attached to the interest of Great-Britain ; and that if 
" another character [Jefferson] is elected, he will be 
" (to use the expression of Du Pont de Nemours in 
" the Council of Ancients) devoted to the interest of 
u France." Every body knows that Adams and Jeffer- 
son were the rival candidates for the presidency, on 
the retirement of Washington. 

Notwithstanding this haughty and insolent rejection 
of General Pinckney, it was thought expedient to make 
one more effort to recover the good will of our terma- 

* Meaning Mr. Talleyrand, I presume, who visite 1 this country in the year 
1794 ; appeared in the character of an emigrant, and was treated with hospi- 
tality and respect. If his object in coming- to the United States was to ea- 
cape the guillotine, yet, from what is mentioned by General Pinckney, we 
may infer that he acted the part of a spy ; and probably in that character 
made his peace with the Directory, who in 1797 appointed him their minister 
for foreign affairs. For his great talents and othf r qualities, no man was bcT 
ter adapted to their service. 



gant sister. A more solemn embassy was therefore 
instituted ; and General Pinckney, General Marshall, 
and Francis Dana, then chief justice of Massachusetts, 
were appointed by President Adams, with the advice 
and consent of the Senate, " Envoys Extraordinary and 
Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States to the 
trench Republic." Elbridge Gerry was Mr. Adams's 
choice ; and it was with some difficulty that the heads 
of departments prevailed on him to substitute Mr. Dana; 
the same gentleman of whom Mr. Adams made mention, 
alike honourable and just, in his letters published in 
the Boston Patriot, in 1809-10. But Mr. Dana declin- 
ing the service, Mr. Adams recurred to the first object 
of his partiality, Mr. Gerry. Further opposition was 
vain. One reason assigned by Mr. Adams for prefer- 
ring Mr. Gerry was (and I wish it to be remembered) 
that, besides possessing the requisite talents, he was a 
firm man,) and superior to all the arts of French seduc- 
tion ! 

Marshall and Gerry arrived in France about the last 
of September 1797, and proceeded to Paris, where 
General Pinckney joined them. They in due form an- 
nounced their arrival to Mr. Talleyrand, the French 
Minister for foreign affairs. Cards of hospitality were 
sent them, to save them from molestation by the police ; 
and they expected to be formally received, and to en- 
ter on the business of their mission. But in a few days 
they had reason to think that the first favourable ap- 
pearances were delusive. They delivered to Mr. Tal- 
leyrand copies of their letters of credence from the 
President, showing their characters, and desiring full 
credit to be given to their communications. But they 
were not admitted to an audience of the Directory. 
At length, certain propositions were made to them by 
Mr. Talleyrand's agents to which they must assent, as 
preliminaries to their admission as ministers of the Uni- 
ted States. These preliminaries were, a disavowal of 
some parts of the President's speech to Congress, touch- 
ing the conduct of the French government, notoriously 
founded on facts, and therefore impossible to be disa- 


vowed ; but at which the Directory affected to be of- 
fended. Nevertheless, they were not inexorable. Their 
extreme resentments might be allayed, and their WOUND- 
ED HONOUR healed, by a douceur (gratuity or bribe) of 
fifty thousand pounds sterling (222,000 dollars) for the 
pockets of the Directory and their minister Talleyrand ; 
and a loan to the amount of thirty two millions of flo- 
rins, equal to twelve millions eight hundred thousand 
dollars ; for which Dutch paper securities, under the 
name of Re scrip tions, of that nominal sum, but ac- 
knowledged to be worth not more than ten shillings in 
the pound, might be assigned to the United States. 
These modest propositions were of course not assented 
to. Our envoys had no power to give their assent. 
Their instructions expressly forbade the making of any 
loan : it would have violated our duty as a neutral na- 
tion. But if the douceur had been given, and our en- 
voys had been so far disposed to assent to a loan as to 
consult their government upon it (an operation of full 
six months) which indeed they offered to do ; the hor- 
rible depredations on our commerce were not to be 
discontinued ; and these were already estimated at fif- 
teen millions of dollars, and w r ere still going on with 
unremitting activity. 

The names of Talleyrand's private agents, designat- 
ed by the letters X and Y, were written at length 
in our envoys' despatches ; but accompanied with an 
engagement, on the part of the United States, that 
their names should in no event be made public. For 
this reason, when the despatches were to be laid be- 
fore Congress, I substituted the letters X and Y. The 
letters W and Z were also introduced by me, gratui- 
tously, instead of the proper names of two other per- 
sons who had some agency in these transactions, 
and through whom X and Y might perhaps be disco- 

Mr. Talleyrand's corrupt overtures were repeated, 
and pressed upon the envoys ; and soon with threats 
of vengeance from the Directory, if not complied with, 
Thanks to the intelligence and firmness of Pinckney 

and Marshall, these threats were utterly disregarded 
I do not add the name of Mr. Gerry, although he then 
concurred with them, for reasons which will hereafter 

Thus slighted, thus insulted, and kept at an official 
distance, Pinckney and Marshall would not make to 
Talleyrand, what he desired, inofficial visits to discuss 
official business.* Mr. Gerry, however, because he 
had seen Talleyrand in the United States, in the form 
of an emigrant, was pleased, contrary to the opinions 
of both of his colleagues, to make him an early visit. 
Once he was accompanied by Mr. Y and Mr. Z. The 
latter was a French gentleman, occasionally if not re- 
gularly employed by Talleyrand ; and, understanding 
the English language, served as an interpreter. Mr. 
Gerry, thus in the presence of Y and Z, spoke to Mr. 
Talleyrand of the propositions which had been made 
to our envoys by Y, in behalf of Mr. Talleyrand : to 
which statement the latter answered " The informa- 
u tion Mr. Y had given was just, and might always be 
" relied on." 

Although not received, yet the depredations on our 
commerce, the capture and condemnation of our ves- 
sels, were so extensive, and pressed with ardour, that 
Pinckney and Marshall proposed the making of a re- 
spectful communication to the minister, to pray for a 
suspension of those proceedings until the further order 
of the Directory. " Mr. Gerry is of a contrary opinion : 
" he apprehends that by hurrying we shall irritate the 
" government."! It was now the 15th of October. 
To several subsequent attempts to act with some deci- 
sion, Mr. Gerry was constantly opposed. War, like a 
terrible spectre, had risen up to his view. Precipita- 
tion, he said, would certainly produce war. Yet he 
acknowledged the demands of France to be unjust, and 
her treatment of the envoys insulting ; and to such a 
degree, that, if proceeding from any other government 

* At a subsequent period, events of magnitude, affecting the United States, 
induced them to depart from this determination. 

f General Marshall's manuscript journal, a copy of which is now before inc. 


in the world, he said he would not submit to them for 
ten days. 

Near a month having elapsed, since the envoys had 
delivered to the French minister copies of their letters 
of credence, without their being admitted to an audi- 
ence of the Directory, Pinckney and Marshall wished 
to call the attention of the minister to the subject of 
their mission. To this Mr. Gerry at length agreed ; 
but the next day changed his mind, and proposed the 
postponement of such a letter until all their conversa- 
tions already detailed should be put in cipher (a tedious 
operation) and six copies made out and sent to their 
government. " This (says General Marshall in his 
" journal) would, on a reasonable calculation, require 
" about two or three months." However, a letter 
having been prepared, and submitted to Mr. Gerry, 
and he having employed a day in making essential 
changes, to adapt it to his own taste to which the 
other two envoys yielded, for the sake of unanimity 
on the llth of November it was sent to Mr. Talley- 
rand. No answer, however, was given to it. 

Three months having elapsed, General Marshall 
draughted a long letter, consisting of a justification of 
the conduct of our government in relation to France. 
This was done by the 10th of January 1798. It was 
submitted to Mr. Gerry (whose humour it was neces- 
sary to consult to obtain his signature) to suggest any 
alterations and amendments he might think proper. 
That such a letter should be written, had been agreed 
on by the 18th of December; and that it should be 
concluded with a request to the French government 
to open the negotiation, or to grant to the envoys their 

Casspoits, to return home. The letter was closed, 
owever, in very gentle terms (undoubtedly to satisfy 
Mr. Gerry) requesting, that if no hope remained of re- 
storing harmony between the two republics, by amica- 
ble negotiation, " their return to their own country 
" might be facilitated." Mr. Gerry's vexatious delays 
prevented the completion and translation of the letter 
until the 31st of January, when it was signed, and sent 
to the French minister. 


Mr. Gerry appears now to have had frequent ap- 
pointments to meet Mr. Talleyrand ; but this gentle- 
man was often absent, nor did he think Mr. Gerry of 
consequence enough to make any apology for repeat- 
ed disappointments, until a fourth had occurred. Then 
one of Talleyrand's secretaries called on Mr. Gerry, to 
make a slight apology ; and this secretary took this 
opportunity (Feb. 3) to remark, that they had receiv- 
ed a very long letter from the envoys, and inquired 
what was its purport " for they could not take the 
" trouble to read it" ! and he added, " that such long 
" letters were not to the taste of the French govern- 
ff ment, who liked a short address, coming at once to 
" the point." No ; the peremptory demands of that 
government, just or unjust, on the neighbouring na- 
tions, subjugated or intimidated by the French arms, 
superseded all negotiation ; and the like short work 
was intended to be made with the United States. The 
secretary invited Mr. Gerry to see Mr. Talleyrand the 
next day. 

" February 4. Mr. Gerry returned from his visit to 
" Mr. Talleyrand, and informed me (says General Mar- 
" shall) that communications and propositions had been 
" made to him by that gentleman, which he was not at 
" liberty to impart to General Pinckney or myself; 
" that he had also propounded some questions to the 
" minister, which had produced some change in the 
" proposition from its original aspect ; that he was to 
" give an answer to-morrow or the day after ; and that 
" upon it probably depended peace or war." 4 

So this distinguished diplomatist, Mr. Gerry, the 
favourite of Mr. Adams, " whose negotiations were 
" more useful and successful than those of either of his 
" colleagues""!" " by way of excellence (says Mr. Adams) 
" my own ambassador, for I had appointed him against 

* General Marshall's manuscript journal. The above paragraph I have 
copied verbatim. For all other details concerning- the envoys and their pro- 
ceeding's, in Paris, which are not communicated in (heir public despatches, I 
am indebted to General Marshall's journal, of which, on his return from 
France, he allowed me to take a copy. The original is in his hands. 

t So says Mr. Adams in letter XIV, Nov. 7, 1808, to Cunning-ham. 


" the advice of all my ministers." 1 * This envoy, one 
of three, and the last of the three, to whom the great 
interests of the United States in relation to France 
had been entrusted, engages in private consultations 
with the French minister, and under an injunction of 
secrecy, to which he pledges himself, on the business 
of their important mission ! And on his answer to that 
minister, he says, "probably depended peace or war"! 
And the whole of this machination was to be conceal- 
ed from his colleagues ! So gross a misdemeanor must 
be ascribed either to corruption, or to weakness and 
pusillanimity and vanity : I am ready to acquit him of 
the first. 

On the 18th of January, at the instance of the Di- 
rectory, the two Legislative Councils passed a decree, 
enacting that " every vessel found at sea, loaded in 
" whole or in part with merchandise the production of 
" England or of her possessions, shall be declared good 
" prize, whoever the owner of these goods or merchan- 
" dise may be."t On the 6th of February, General 
Marshall put into Mr. Gerry's hands the draught of a 
letter to the French minister, remonstrating against 
that decree, and closing with a request of passports. 
But Mr. Gerry was too busily occupied with his secret 
negotiations with that minister to attend to the letter^ 
though it would affect nearly every American vessel 
on the ocean. On the 14th of February Mr. Gerry 
returned the draught of the letter, with some aniend- 
ments. It was then put under copy, and translated.^ 
On the 18th, being fully prepared, it was offered to 
Mr. Gerry to sign which he declined. 

The envoys had been waiting for an answer to their 
long letter, dated the 17th and delivered to the minis- 
ter on the 31st of January ; in which, as before men- 
tioned, they had minutely examined all the subjects on 
which the French government had made complaints., 

* Letter XXXIV, March 20, 1809, to Cunningham. 

f This is the prototype of Bonaparte's Berlin decree. 

J The Envoys' letters to Mr. Talleyrand were in their own language, but 
accompanied by French translations, as well to prevent misconstructions, a* 
any pretence for delay in answering them. 

and exhibited a complete vindication of their owfr 
At length Mr. Talleyrand, on the 18th of March, 
deigned to send them an answer, in the usual style of 
French Republican sophistry and round assertions, 
which he knew were alike false and insulting, and near 
its close is the following paragraph : 

" It is, therefore, only in order to smooth the way of 
" discussions, that the undersigned has entered into 
"the preceding explanations. It is with the same 
" view, that he declares to the commissioners and en- 
" voys extraordinary, that, notwithstanding the kind of 
" prejudice which has been entertained with respect 
" to them, the Executive Directory is disposed to treat 
" with that one of the three, whose opinions, presumed 
" to be more impartial, promise, in the course of the 
" explanations, more of that reciprocal confidence 
" which is indispensable," 

The above paragraph, being interpreted, would read 
thus :- " You, Messrs. Pinckney and Marshall, dis- 
cerning what the rights and interests of your country 
demand, and being determined to maintain them, are 
not the persons with whom the Directory choose to 
have any intercourse. Mr. Gerry, on the contrary, 
being more open to useful impressions, ; more impar- 
tial' that is, not partial to those rights and interests, 
at least so far as comports with the present views and 
wants of the French government possesses the qual- 
ifications proper for an envoy with whom the Directo- 
ry will negotiate." 

At the beginning, Mr. Talleyrand's agents X and Y 
had stated to the envoys the necessity of paying mo- 
ney, and a great deal of it, to sooth the irritated Direc- 
tory, and of agreeing to a very large loan. The en- 
voys repelled these demands ; and assured those agents, 
and Mr. Talleyrand himself, that they had no power 
to make any loan of money ; and, finally, that their in- 
structions forbade their agreeing to a loan. Mr. Gerry 
concurred with his colleagues in these declarations. 
But, after he had been closeted by Talleyrand, and in- 
vited to and indulged in frequent secret conferences* 

he came out a convert to the minister's avowed opi- 
nion, that a loan, to be paid after the war with Eng- 
land, was not forbidden by their instructions ; although 
the direct object of such a stipulation was, to raise the 
money upon it immediately, to aid in carrying on the 
existing war ! And in this new opinion, enforced by 
the terror of the war with which Talleyrand had in- 
spired him, Mr. Gerry persisted, in opposition to the 
plain and unanswerable arguments of his colleagues. 
Their instruction, on this question, was in these words 
" That no aid be stipulated in favour of France during 
" the present war." 

On the 3d of April, the envoys sent to the French 
minister a full answer to his letter of the 18th of March ; 
and concluded with saying, that if " it should be the 
" will of the Directory to order passports for the whole 
" or any number of them, you will please to accompany 
" such passports with letters of safe conduct, which 
" will entirely protect from the cruisers of France the 
" vessels in which they may respectively sail, and give 
" to their persons, suite and property that perfect se- 
" curity to which the laws and usages of nations entitle 
" them." 

After this, General Marshall prepared for his depar- 
ture, and waited only the order of the Directory as to 
a passport and letter of safe conduct. But these they 
wished to avoid giving : for though it was perfectly 
clear that Mr. Gerry ivas their man, they desired not 
to make a formal selection of him ; but that Generals 
Pinckney and Marshall, by asking passports for them- 
selves, would, in effect, make the selection ; and by 
thus withdrawing, in appearance voluntarily, leave Mr. 
Gerry more at liberty, with some colour of authority, 
to negotiate alone. It is due to him to say, that he 
was not guilty of this last degree of folly : he under- 
took only to negotiate informally, and in this way suf- 
fered himself to be amused and trifled with for above 
four months ; two months and a half of that time after 
he had received instructions from his government to 
leave France. He had repeatedly told his colleagues 


that he would not stay ; but changed his mind after- 
ward, and said he would stay, to prevent a war. 
Threats of various kinds had been thrown out, for six 
months, to alarm the envoys, and frighten them into a 
submission to the arbitrary will of the Directory ; none 
of which had been carried into execution ; and among 
them this bugbear of immediate war, which Mr. Gerry 
had now been persuaded to believe would become a 
reality, and which nothing but his remaining in France 
would prevent. 

The sickness of General Pinckney's daughter com- 
pelled him to stay some time in France. General Mar- 
shall embarked without delay ; and his safe return was 
a subject of cordial congratulation among his indepen- 
dent fellow-citizens. 

The despatches from our envoys, in which the un- 
just and corrupt demands of the French government 
were displayed, having been communicated to Con- 
gress, they ordered them to be published. They were 
of course circulated by newspapers, and reached Eng- 
land ; and from England they travelled to Paris. Up- 
on their arrival, Mr. Talleyrand, with singular effron- 
tery, wrote to Mr. Gerry the following letter, dated 
May 30, 1798. 

u I communicate to you, sir, a London gazette of the 1 5th of May. 
You will therein find a very strange publication. I cannot observe 
without surprise, that intriguers have profited of the insulated condi- 
tion in which the envoys of the United States have kept themselves, 
to make proposals and hold conversations, the object of which was 
evidently to deceive you. I pray you to make known to me imme- 
diately the names denoted by the initials W, X, Y and Z, and that of 
the woman who is described as having had conversations with Mr. 
Pinckney upon the interests of America. If you are averse to send- 
ing them to me in writing, be pleased to communicate them confi- 
dentially to the bearer. 

u 1 must rely upon your eagerness to enable the government to 
fathom those practices, of which I felicitate you on not having been 
the dupe, and which you must wish to see cleared up. 

" Accept, &c. CH. MAU. TALLEYRAND." 

It is difficult to conceive of a more pointed insult 
than was in this letter offered to Mr. Gerry. He was 
present with Pinckney and Marshall, and heard all the 


propositions for the douceur and the loan, made by X 
and Y, in Talleyrand's behalf, and had signed all the 
despatches which Talleyrand now called " strange pub- 
lications." Further Mr. Gerry went with Y to Mr. 
Talleyrand's office (as before mentioned) where Mr. 
Gerry told him, " that Mr. Y had stated to him some 
" propositions as coming from Mr. Talleyrand, respect- 
" ing which Mr. Gerry could give no opinion." Mr. 
Gerry made some other observations : after which, Mr. 
Talleyrand said, " that the information Mr. Y had given 
" him (Mr. Gerry) was just, and might always be reli- 
" ed on." Now, the precise propositions offered by Y, 
that morning, are thus given, in the envoys' despatches, 
as stated by Mr. Y to Mr. Gerry himself. " He (Mr. Y) 
" then stated, that two measures, which Mr. Talleyrand 
" proposed, being adopted, a restoration of friendship be- 
" tween the republics would follow immediately ; the one 
" was a gratuity of 50,000 pounds sterling ; the other, a 
" purchase of thirty-two millions of Dutch rescriptions." 
Still further ; at a preceding interview between Mr. 
Talleyrand and Mr. Gerry, Mr. Z being present, Mr. 
Gerry said, " that as to a loan, we had no powers what- 
" ever to make one ; that, if we were to attempt it, we 

" should deceive himself and the Directory ; but 

" that we could send one of our number for instructions 
" on this proposition, if deemed expedient, provided the 
" other objects of the negotiation could be discussed 
" and adjusted ;" concluding with a referrence to Tal- 
leyrand's desire to " confer with the envoys individu- 
ally." To this Mr. Talleyrand answered, " He should 
" be glad to confer with the other envoys individually ; 
" but that this matter about the money must be settled 
" directly, without sending to America ; that he would 
" not communicate the arret for a week ; and that if 
" we could adjust the difficulty respecting the speech, 
" an application would nevertheless go to the United 
" States for a loan." This conversation was on the 
28th of October, twenty-four days after all the en- 
voys had arrived in Paris. The threatened arret was 
to order them off. 


The reader now sees, that the two conversations 
held by Mr. Gerry with Mr. Talleyrand demonstrate, 
that the money propositions of the " intriguers" are 
precisely those of Mr. Talleyrand himself Mr. Y pre- 
sent in one instance, and Mr. Z in the other ; that Tal- 
leyrand distinguished between the loan for which the 
American government must be consulted, and the mo- 
ney " which must be settled directly ;" which was the 
douceur, or gratuity, of 50,000 pounds sterling. Yet, 
with all this certainty that X and Y were Talleyrand's 
agents, Mr. Gerry yields to his demands, and certifies- 
tlieir names ! He wished to have evaded the disgrace- 
ful compliance ; but exacted only one condition, Tal- 
leyrand's assurance that their names should not be pub- 
lished on his (Gerry's) authority. Talleyrand answers, 
" that they shall not be published as coming from him." 
Then follows the certificate in these words : 

" Pans, June 1798. Prairial, 6 an. 

" The names of the persons designated in the communications of the 
Envoys Extraordinary of the United States to their government, pub- 
lished in the Commercial Advertiser of the llth of April last at 
New-York, are as follow : 

X is Mr. , 

Y is Mr. Bellamy, 

Z is Mr. Hauteval. E. GERRY." 

" To the Minister of Foreign Affairs 
of the French Republic." 

This certificate is No. 12, among the documents 
communicated to Congress by Mr. Adams, on the 18th 
of January, 1799 ; and to this No. 12 I then subjoined 
the following note : 

" Mr. Gerry has inserted the proper name of X in this document, 
as given to Mr. Talleyrand ; but the person designated by X not hav- 
ing (like Y) avowed himself, the promise made to him and Y, ' that 
their names should 'in no event be made public,' is still obligatory 
on the Executive in respect to X, and therefore his name is here 
omitted. T. PICKERING." 

But, besides thus debasing himself in giving to Tal- 

Srand the names of his own agents, Mr. Gerry stat- 
, that " they did not, to his knowledge, produce cre- 
" dentials or documents of any kind." But what ere- 


dentials could be necessary, when Mr. Talleyrand had 
acknowledged to Mr. Gerry himself, that Y was his 
agent in the propositions he had made ; when not only 
X, but Talleyrand also, had made to Mr. Gerry the 
same propositions, for the gratuity and a loan ? Mr. 
Gerry did not stop here : in another letter to Talley- 
rand, he says, " In regard to the citizens attached 
" to your employment, and authorized by you to see 
u the envoys on your official communications, I do not 
" recollect a word from any of them which had the 
" least relation to the proposition, made by X and Y 
" in their informal negotiations, to pay money for cor- 
" rupt purposes." Now when, on the 28th of October, 
Mr. Talleyrand made to Mr. Gerry the same money 
propositions, (as I have before stated) Z (Mr. Haute- 
val) was present, and was desired by Talleyrand to re- 
peat what he had said to Mr. Gerry. Another fact 
was certified by Mr. Gerry that three of the persons 
were foreigners, and the fourth (Hauteval) Mr. Gerry 
says, " acted merely as a messenger and linguist." 
Mr. Talleyrand had now obtained, through Mr7 Gerry's 
pusillanimity, the ground-work for a publication in Pa- 
ris, ridiculing the envoys as the dupes of the pretend- 
ed intriguers, and using Mr. Gerry's answers on the 
subject to justify the statement. Mr. Hauteval was 
not merely a messenger and linguist, but a solicitor, in 
this business, for Mr. Talleyrand ; of which take the 
following decisive proof, it being an extract of a letter, 
dated June 15, 1798, from Mr. King, our minister in 
London, to the Secretary of State, and which was pub- 
lished, as a note, in my report. Col. Trumbull is the 
painter so well known in that profession. 

" Col. Trumbull, who was at Paris soon after the ar- 
" rival there of the Commissioners, has more than once 
" informed me, that Hauteval told him, that both the 
" douceur and the loan were indispensable ; and urged 
" him to employ his influence with the American Com- 
" missioners to offer the bribe, as well as the loan?* 
Yet this same Mr. Hauteval, acting a part in this go- 
vernment farce, writes to Mr. Talleyrand " My sen- 


sibility must be much affected on finding myself, un- 
" der the letter Z, acting a part in company with cer- 
" tain intriguers, whose plan it doubtless was to take 
" advantage of the good faith of the American Envoys, 
" and make them their dupes." " Citizen" Talleyrand, 
now Prince Talleyrand, was long enough minister for 
foreign affairs to accumulate a princely fortune, by 
practising, for himself and his principals, on the vassal 
states subdued by, or trembling in terror of, French 
armies, the same exactions with those he attempted to 
impose on the American Envoys. [It is perhaps hard- 
ly known, that this Prince is a citizen of Pennsylvania. 
He was citizenized when there in the form of a French 
emigrant. I have somewhere among my papers a 
copy of the certificate of his admission.] 

On the 4th and 5th of March 1798, the first despatches 
from our envoys came to hand. Being voluminous, and 
in cipher, much time was required to decipher them, 
and make copies to be laid before Congress. On the 
23d of that month, by the President's direction, I wrote 
a letter, addressed to all the envoys ; in which I quote 
from their No. 5, dated the 8th of January, the follow- 
ing passage : You " repeat, that there exists no hope 
" of your being officially received by that government, 
" or that the objects of your mission will be in any way 
" accomplished." ' This opinion is sanctioned by the 
whole tenor of your communications ; and we trust 
that soon after the date of your No. 5 you closed your 
mission, by demanding passports to leave the territo- 
ries of the French Republic.' Then, adverting to the 
fair and honourable views of the American govern- 
ment, which dictated the mission, and the extreme 
neglect with which they, and through them their coun- 
try, had been treated by the government of France, 
my letter proceeds : " Under these circumstances, the 
" President presumes that you have long since quitted 
" Paris and the French dominions." Then, noticing 
their intention to make one more attempt to draw the 
French government to an open negotiation, in which 
there was a bare possibility of succeeding, the President 


authorized their staying to complete a treaty ; but, if there 
appeared a design in that government to procrastinate, 
they were directed to break off the negotiation, demand 
their passports, and return. " For (it was added) you 
" will consider, that suspense is ruinous to the essential 
" interests of your country ;" and this instruction was 
given them : " In no event is a treaty to be purchased 
" with money, by loan or otherwise. There can be 
" no safety in a treaty so obtained. A loan to the Re- 
" public would violate our neutrality ; and a douceur 
" to the men now in power, might, by their successors, 
" be urged as a reason for annulling the treaty ; or, as 
" a precedent for further and repeated demands." 

In his letter of May 13th, addressed to me, Mr. Gerry 
acknowledged the receipt of my letter of the 23d of 
March, delivered to him the preceding evening by the 
special messenger, sent to France in a public vessel of 
the United States. The instructions in that letter Mr. 
Gerry said he should duly observe ; yet suffered him- 
self to be amused by Talleyrand's idle proposals of a 
negotiation, until near the end of July ; even when the 
French minister's letters were marked with repetitions 
of insulting sentiments towards the American govern- 
ment, particularly in suggesting doubts of its sincerity 
in its measures to effect a settlement of differences re- 
proaches which Mr. Gerry knew to be unfounded and 
after he had, to his colleagues, pronounced the govern- 
ment of the French Republic, " the proudest as well as 
" the most unjust government on the face of the earth ; 
" that it was so elevated by its victories as to hold in 
" perfect contempt all the rights of others ; and that 
" with this disposition it w r ould certainly make war on 
" us, if we refused to comply with what its pride would 
" insist on, because the measure had been proposed."* 
Thus completely had Mr. Adams's able and magnanimous 
ambassador become the dupe of the French minister's 
threats, mingled with blandishments flattering to his 
vanity. Mr. Gerry had even the folly to imagine his 
colleagues to be envious of his good fortune : " They 

* General Marshall's Journal Feb. 26, 1798. 


' were wounded (he said) and he was not surprised at 
" it, by the manner in which they bad been treated by 
" the government of France, and the difference which 
" had been used with respect to him."t How different- 
ly his great friend and protector, President Adams, at 
that time, viewed his conduct, will appear by the fol- 
io wing extracts of my letter, dated June 25, 1798, to 
Mr. Gerry, which, together with his voluminous docu- 
ments, were by the President communicated to Con- 
gress on the 18th of January 1799. 

Extracts of the letter to Mr. Gerry, dated June 25, 1798. 

" By the instructions dated the 23d of March, which agreeably to 
the President's directions I addressed to Generals Pinckney and Mar- 
shall and yourself, and of which six sets were transmitted, one by a 
despatch boat sent on purpose, and some of which doubtless reached 
you during the last month, you will have seen that it was expected 
that all of you would have left France long before those instructions 
could arrive, and which were transmitted rather from abundant cau- 
tion than necessity, seeing no probability or hope existed that you 
would accomplish the object of your mission. The respect due to 
yourselves and to your country irresistibly required that you should 
turn your backs to a government that treated both with contempt; 
a contempt not diminished but aggravated by the flattering but insidious 
distinction in your favour, in disparagement of men of such respectable 
talents, yntainted honour and pure patriotism, as Generals Pinckney and 
Marshall, and in whom their government and country reposed entire con- 
fidence ; and especially when the real object <>J that distinction -was to en- 
able the French government, trampling on the authority and dignity of 
your own, to designate an envoy with whom they would condescend to ne- 
gotiate. It is therefore to be regretted, that you did not concur with your 
colleagues in demanding passports to quit the territories of the French Re- 
public, some time before they left Paris." 

" It is presumed that you will consider the instructions of the 23d 
of March, before mentioned, as an effectual recall. Lest, however, 
by any possibility, those instructions should not have reached you, 
and you should still be in France, / am directed by the PRESIDENT to 
transmit to you this letter, and to inform you, that you are to consider 
it as a positive letter of recall." 

If the reader has had patience to accompany me 
through this abridged history of the occurrences at 
Paris in relation to the French government and our 
envoys, and particularly to the conduct of Mr. Gerry, 

\ General Marshall's Journal April 3. 


he will be prepared to understand and appreciate the 
passages in my report on French affairs, which Mr. 
Adams marked to be struck out, and which were ac- 
cordingly expunged. The reader will see, in another 
part of this Review, General Marshall's testimony to 
the correctness of the report as laid before Congress-. 
The following passages between brackets are those 
ordered to be struck out, and complete the report as 
originally written and submitted to the President. A 
few words of the report, as adopted by the President, 
are introduced, to render those passages perfectly in- 

Paragraph 6. Mr. Gerry wishes to evade Talley- 
rand's demand of the names of the persons designated 
by the letters W, X, Y and Z, and with reason ; for he 
and his colleagues had " promised Messrs. X and Y 
" that their names should in no event be made public. 
" [I know not what considerations could warrant a de- 
" parture from this promise, on the supposition that 
" their names were unknown to the French govern- 
" ment ; and admitting that they were known (which 
" was the fact) the minister's request was impertinent 
" and insulting ; and to comply with it was submitting 
" to an indignity."] In the same paragraph " Mr. 
" Gerry had Mr. Talleyrand's own assurance that Mr. 
" Y was acting by his authority. [It is to be regretted 
" that an envoy from the United States should have 
" consented to act a part in this farce."] In the same 
paragraph Mr. Gerry, " besides formally certifying to 
" Mr. Talleyrand the names of his own private agents, 
" [giving colour for his affected ignorance of them, in 
" using the hypothetical expression, ' if any of those 
" persons were unauthorized to act,' and adding] that 
" ' they did not produce, to his knowledge, credentials,' 
" &c." In the same paragraph " Mr. Talleyrand an- 
" swered, that the information Mr. Y had given him 
w (Mr. Gerry) was just, and might always be relied on. 
" [This surely was a ' credential' for Mr. Y, to vouch 
" not only for his past, but for any future, communica- 


" tions to the envoys, as made by the minister's au- 
* thority."]* 

Paragraph 9. " On the 2d of December X, Y and 
" Z dined together at Mr. Talleyrand's [familiarly] in 
" company with Mr. Gerry ; and, after rising from ta- 
" ble, the money propositions, which had before been 
" made, were repeated, in the room and in the pre- 
" sence, though perhaps not in the hearing, of Mr. Tal- 
" leyrand. Mr. X put the question to Mr. Gerry in 
" direct terms, either, ' whether the envoys would give 
" the douceur^ or A whether they had got the money 
" ready,' [meaning the douceur."] 

Paragraph 12. "It was to accomplish the object of 
" these [scandalous] intrigues, that the American en- 
" voys were kept at Paris, unreceived, six months af- 
" ter their credentials were laid before the Directory." 

Paragraph 13. The report, mentioning the threats 
which during four or five months had been uttered, of 
immediate orders to the envoys to quit France, and of 
war in its most dreadful forms which threats had in- 
duced Mr. Gerry to separate himself from his col- 
leagues, and stay in Paris goes on to say, that "those 
" threats had not been executed, and the unworthy 
" purposes for which they had been uttered had been 
" obvious. [It is further unfortunate that Mr. Gerry 
" should have imagined it to be his duty to remain in 
" France near three months after the instructions reach- 
" ed him, busied in informal negotiations, hopeless in 
" their nature, and unwarranted by those instructions ; 
" in which, too, he was pointedly told, ' that suspense 
" was ruinous to the essential interests of his coun- 
64 try.' "] 

Paragraph 20. " Hitherto, instead of a [sincere and 
" anxious] desire to obtain a reconciliation, we can dis- 
" cover in the French government only empty profes- 
" sions of a desire to conciliate" 

* The following- passage is in the same paragraph of the printed report: 
M Mr. Y, himself, who is Mr. Bellamy, of Hamburgh, in his public vindica- 
tion, declares, that * he had done nothing-, said nothing, and written nothing", 
without the orders of Citizen Talleyrand.' " 


Paragraph 23. " On the 12th of May, the new in* 
44 structions of March 23d, sent by the Sophia packet, 
" reached Mr. Gerry, [requiring him, situated as he 
" then was, to demand his passports and return ; for, 
" possessing no powers to negotiate, it was impossible 
" that any circumstance mentioned in the instructions, 
44 to warrant his staying any longer in France, could 
" exist. He was informed, too, that suspense, the na- 
" tural consequence of his stay, was ruinous to the es- 
44 sential interests of his country. Mr. Gerry, how r - 
" ever, instead of conceiving himself bound immediate- 
" ly to demand his passports and return, only thought 
46 himself authorized to give immediate information to 
44 the minister of foreign affairs,] and he gave immedi- 
44 ate notice to the minister, that he should return to 
44 America in the Sophia, as soon as she could be fitted 
44 for sea. [He remained, nevertheless, much longer in 
44 France, vair.Iy seeking pacific arrangements."] 

Paragraph 28. " Such are the proceedings of the 
44 French government, by its minister, Mr. Talleyrand, 
44 before the arrival of the printed despatches of the 
" envoys : [and where can we find any mark of 4 a sin- 
44 cere and anxious desire to obtain a reconciliation' ?"] 

Same Paragraph. After noticing the impossibility 
of the envoys' negotiating on the terms proposed by 
Mr. Talleyrand, " because directly repugnant to their 
44 instructions : [It is really surprising that such renew r - 
" ed propositions should not have appeared to Mr. Gerry 
44 to be, what they really were, illusory, and calculated 
44 only to amuse."] 

Paragraph 34. " While we, amused and deluded by 
44 warm but empty professions of the pacific views and 
44 wishes of France, and by [Mr. Gerry's] informal con- 
44 ferences, might wait in fruitless torpor, hoping for a 
44 peaceful result." 

Such are the passages in my original report, on 
which Mr. Adams has made the atrocious charge, that 
44 1 inserted a most virulent, false and calumnious phi- 
44 lippic against Gerry." I need not appeal to Gen- 
erals Pinckney and Marshall, who are intimately 


quainted with facts, and will assuredly justify all I 
have said ; but every reader will see, that the parts 
struck out are only inferences and remarks on notori- 
ous facts facts stated in the official despatches of the 
envoys which are signed by Mr. Gerry, or in his own 
official communications. But the reader cannot possi- 
bly conceive of the virulence of Mr. Adams himself, in 
this case, without seeing that charge in its connexions : 
it shall be exhibited. 

Mr. Adams, having taken an unadvised step, in in- 
stituting a mission to France in February 1799, nomi- 
nated Mr. Murray, then minister resident of the Uni- 
ted States in Holland, sole minister plenipotentiary to 
negotiate a treaty with the government of the Frfench 
Republic. The measure was condemned by the most 
enlightened federalists. It paralysed the public spirit, 
at that time roused to a proper sense of the unexam- 
pled injuries and insults of that Republic." It subverted 
the temple of federalism ; and, burying its destroyer 
in its ruins, rendered strikingly applicable to Mr. Ad- 
ams, his own quotation in another case 

Nee lex est justior ulla 

Quam necis artifices arte perire sua. 

Which, as applied in this case, may be thus translat- 
ed : No laiv is more just, than that to the contrivers of 
mischief their own arts should prove fatal. This mea- 
sure, if clearly correct and patriotic, in the actual state 
of things, in relation to France and the United States, 
would not have required so long and laboured an ar- 
gument, and the production of so many letters and 
papers for its justification. Yet it is the burden of a 
number of his letters to Cunningham, and of many 
more which he published in 1809, in the Boston Pa- 
triot. And he introduces the names of many persons 
who had given him information, official and inofficial, 
that the Directory desired to make peace ; all which, 
in his communications to Congress in December 1798, 
he declared unsatisfactory ; yet, in 1809, he musters 
them together, in order to prove the propriety, expe- 
diency, and moral certainty, of negotiating an hon> 


ourable peace.* In his message of June 21, 1798, to 
Congress feeling with some force the monstrous in- 
dignities with which Pinckney, the minister of Wash- 
ington, and Pinckney, Marshall and Gerry, his own 
ministers, had been treated and finally rejected he 
said, " I will never send another minister to France, 
" without assurances that he will be received, respect- 
" ed and honoured, as the representative of a great, 
" free, powerful and independent nation." In his let- 
ter No, XXXIV, March 20, 1809, to Cunningham, for- 
getting what he had declared eleven years before, con- 
cerning Gerry's information, he says, " Mr. Gerry, in 
" an official public letter, conveyed to me, at the re- 
" quest of the Directory and their secretary, Talley- 
" rand, the most positive and express assurances, that 
" I had demanded." The reader will now compare 
this solemn asseveration with Mr. Adams's message to 
the Senate, nominating Mr. Murray ; in which no use 
is made of Mr. Gerry's official letter ; but of Talley- 
rand's letter to Pichon, which he communicated to Mr. 
Murray, who sent it to his own government.t 

* Among 1 these, was the late Dr. Logan of Pennsylvania. He was of the 
Society of Friends., whose leading- principle, every one knows, is opposed to 
war. A gentleman of fortune, he went to Europe at his own expense. Anx- 
ious for peace, he visited Paris, in 1798, and conversed with Talleyrand, from 
whom he received the information to which Mr. Adajns refers ; and, on his 
return home, in the autumn of that year, communicated the same to him. Yet, 
far from setting any value upon it at that time, it became a subject of his censure. 
In his answer, Dec. 12, 1798, to the Senate's address, Mr. Adams says, "Al- 
though the officious interference of individuals, without public character or 
authority, is not entitled to any credit, yet it deserves to be considered wheth- 
er that temerity and impertinence of individuals, affecting to interfere in pub- 
lic affairs, between France and the United States, whether by their secret 
correspondence or otherwise, and intended to impose upon the people, and se- 
parate them from their government, ought not to be inquired into and cor- 
rected." This suggestion, doubtless, gave rise to an act of Congress to re- 
strain such private interferences ; and its popular name was the Logan Law. 
Dr. Logan was an acquaintance of mine ; and I am perfectly satisfied of the 
purity of his views. From the same solicitude to preserve peace to his coun- 
try, he made a voyage to England, in 1810, when there were signs of war in 
the American horizon. He visited British ministers noblemen gentlemen 
farmers in a word, some among all classes of the people, in various parts 
of England ; and when I saw him, on his return, he informed me, that all were 
averse to a war with the United States with the single exception of one 
lieutenant in the navy. 

t Mr. Pichon, once known in America as the charg-e des affaires of the 
French Republic, was at this time officiating in the same character in Hoi 


" Gentlemen of the Senate, 

" I transmit to you a document which seems to be intended to be a 
compliance with a condition mentioned at the conclusion of my mes- 
sage to Congress, of the 2 1 st of June last. Always disposed and ready 
to embrace every plausible appearance of probability of preserving or re- 
storing tranquillity, I nominate William Vans Murray, our minister re- 
sident at the Hague, to be minister plenipotentiary of the United 
States to the French Republic. If the Senate shall advise and con- 
sent to his appointment, effectual care shall be taken in his instruc- 
tions, that he shall not go to France, without direct and unequivocal 
assurances from the French government, signified by their minister 
of foreign relations, that he shall be received in character, shall en- 
joy the privileges attached to his character by the law of nations, 
and that a minister of equal rank, title and powers, shall be appoint- 
ed to treat with him, to discuss and conclude all controversies be- 
tween the two republics. JOHN ADAMS. 

" Feb. 18, 1799." 

The reader must be struck with what Mr. Adams as- 
sumed for the ground of this nomination, relating to a 
matter of very high national concern, and manifestly 
of great difficulty to manage, and bring to a safe and 
successful issue. The ground assumed did not rest on 
probability, nor the appearance of probability ; but on- 
ly on the plausible appearance of probability ! And 
the business to be transacted was the same for which he 
had before appointed three envoys, two of whom were 
General Pinckney and General Marshall. Mr. Mur- 
ray, though worthy and respectable, yet, standing alone, 
would not have received the Senate's approbation. 
This was manifested to the President by a committee 
of that body. The measure itself excited extreme 
surprise ; and, excepting to a few members in the Op- 
position party who ivere in the secret, the surprise was 
as universal as extreme. No head of a department 
not a single federalist had any previous knowledge 
of it. The shock to the minds of federalists, generally, 
may be judged of by this fact : As soon as the report 
of the nomination to the Senate took air, a member of 
the House of Representatives, and a friend to Mr. 
Adams, came to my office, and accosted me in this 

land, where Mr. Murray was resident as the Minister of the United States. 
The " document," mentioned by the President, was Talleyrand's letter to 
Pichon of Sept. 28, 1798. 


manner : How is all this ? the President's nomination 
of Mr. Murray to be minister to France ? I answer- 
ed, I know nothing more about it than you do ; I have 
only heard that the nomination has been made. " Why, 
is the man mad ?" was the member's reply. 

But let us compare the different acts of Mr. Adams. 
If he had received " the most positive and express as- 
" surances that he had demanded," as the condition on 
which alone he would send another minister to France, 
why, in the message to the Senate, in order to recon- 
cile them to the measure, and gain their approbation 
of the nomination, does he declare, that Mr. Murray 
shall " not go to France without direct and unequivocal 
" assurances from the French government, signified by 
" their minister of foreign relations, that he shall be re- 
" ceived" in the manner required by his message to 
Congress of the 21st of June, 1798? The two state- 
ments are incongruous. The simple truth is, unques- 
tionably, that the materials he had mustered up, with 
great diligence, and many of which he had displayed 
in the Boston Patriot, in 1809, and referred to in his 
letters to Cunningham, to justify himself for instituting 
the mission, were (like the British Orders in Council, 
dragged in by his son J. Q.Adams, to justify his active 
zeal and vote in imposing on our country Mr. Jeffer- 
son's ruinous embargo) c the fruit of after thoughts. 
Most of them, and especially those furnished by Mr. 
Gerry, on which so much stress was now laid, had been 
a good while known to him.* To which add the ver- 
bal communications from that gentleman to the Presi- 
dent while remaining at Quincy. The reader shall 
now see of how little value they were in his estima- 
tion, only a short time before he instituted the mission. 

Congress assembled ki Philadelphia in December, 
1798. On the 8th of that month, Mr. Adams address- 
ed that body, according to the usage under the federal 
administrations, in a speech. After noticing the failure of 
the measures which had been taken to settle our contro- 

* Mr. Gerry arrived at Boston the first of October 1798, and delivered his--. 
budget of letters to Mr. Adams, then at Quincy, and Mr. Adams sent them to 
me at Philadelphia. 


versies with France, and some of the outrageous acts 
of its government, he says, " Hitherto, therefore, noth- 
" ing is discoverable in the conduct of France, which 
" ought to change or relax our measures of defence ; 
" on the contrary, to extend and invigorate them is 
" our true policy." Again " It is peace that we have 
" uniformly and perseveringly cultivated ; and harmo- 
" ny between us and France may be restored at her 
" option. But to send another minister, without more 
" determinate assurances that he would be received, 
" would be an act of humiliation, to which the United 
" States ought not to submit. It must therefore be left 
" to France (if she is, indeed, desirous of accommoda- 
" tion) to take the requisite steps." 

The Senate, on the 12th of December, presented to 
the President a respectful answer to his speech, echo- 
ing his sentiments. In the President's reply we have 
this passage " I have seen no real evidence of any 
" change of system or disposition in the French Re- 
" public towards the United States." It should also be 
recollected, that so late as the 18th of January, 1799, 
just one month prior to the nomination of Mr. Murray, 
he laid before Congress my report on the conduct of 
the French government towards the United States ; in 
the last paragraph of which is this expression 
" Warmly professing its desire of reconciliation, it gives 
" no evidence of its sincerity ; but proofs in abundance 
" demonstrate that it is not sincere." If Mr. Adams 
had then thought this opinion erroneous, he would 
have marked it to be struck out, as he did some ex- 
pressions in the report which had too pointed a bear- 
ing on his favourite, Mr. Gerry. 

I have already recited Mr. Adams's charge, that in 
my report I " inserted a most virulent, false and calum- 
nious philippic against Gerry ;" and I presume I have 
shown to every candid reader that the charge is utter- 
ly groundless. In truth, all the virulence, falsehood and 
calumny belong to Mr. Adams. If I forbear, in this 
case, to accuse him of premeditated falsehood, what 
excuse can be offered for the man who, for ten yean?, 


can hoard up his resentments, and then with augment- 
ed virulence, even carelessly utter unfounded reproach- 
es, which in their nature deeply affect the character of 
the person at whom they are pointed ? I will now give 
the above mentioned false charge, with its connexions, 
from his letter No. XXXIV to Cunningham. My re- 
marks will be included in brackets. 

" You speak of the fortunate issue of my negotiation 
" with France to my fame ! ! ! I cannot express my as- 
" tonishment. No thanks for that action, the most dis- 
" interested, the most determined and the most success- 
" fid of my whole life. No acknowledgment of it ever 
" appeared among the Republicans ; and the Federal- 
" ists have pursued me with the most unrelenting ha- 
" tred, and my children too, from that time to this." 
[Without admitting the existence of that " unrelenting 
hatred," it is obvious to remark, that trimmers between 
two parties lose the respect of both. Mr. Adams then 
mentions the assurances he received, that the govern- 
ment of the French Republic would duly admit an Ame- 
rican minister to treat of peace ; and specifies the letter 
before mentioned, from Mr. Talleyrand to Mr. Pichon, 
French charge des affaires at the Hague, to that effect, 
and which Pichon communicated to Murray.] " And 
" the assurance (says Mr. Adams) was as complete as 
" words could express." [Yet we have before seen 
that Mr. Adams assured the Senate, to whom he sent 
a copy of that letter, that Mr. Murray " should not go 
" to France without direct and unequivocal assurances 
" from the French government, signified by their minis- 
" ter of foreign relations, that he should be received in 
" character."] 

" The second assurance (says Mr. Adams) was more 
" positive, more explicit and decisive still, and through 
" the most authentic channel that existed. It was Mr. 
" Gerry, one of my own ambassadors, and by way of 
" excellence my own ambassador, for I had appointed 
" him against the advice of all my ministers, to the fu- 
" rious provocation of Pickering," [False " furiously" 
false : there was no passion manifested by me or any 


other head of a department, on the occasion. In deny- 
ing any of Mr. Adams's assertions, I feel very little dis- 
posed to seek for any voucher beside my own declara- 
tion. One other head of a department, however, is still 
living Governor Wolcott of Connecticut, who was 
then Secretary of the Treasury ; and to him, if any 
one doubt, an appeal may be made.] " and against the 
" advice of all the Senators whom he could influence." 
[I have before stated, that when Mr. Adams first pro- 
posed Mr. Gerry for one of the envoys, the heads of de- 
partments objected; and that Mr. Adams gave way, 
and substituted Chief Justice Dana of Massachusetts ; 
but, on his declining, Mr. Adams recurred to Mr. Ger- 
ry, and in a manner to preclude, as well as I recollect, 
any further opposition. And as to Senators, I am per- 
fectly satisfied, that I never spoke to any one of them. 
We had entire confidence in General Pinckney and 
General Marshall ; and only wished to save them from 
being embarrassed with a difficult and troublesome as- 
sociate ; and such, to their extreme vexation and de- 
lay, Mr. Gerry proved to be.] " Mr. Gerry, in an offi- 
" cial public letter, conveyed to me, at the request of the 
" Directory and their secretary, Talleyrand, the most 
" positive and express assurances, that I had demanded." 
[Yet Mr. Adams had no confidence in them ; as is ma- 
nifest by the passages I have before quoted from his 
speech to Congress in December 1798, and in his reply 
to the answer of the Senate on the 12th of that month. 
To the Senate he said, " I have seen no real evidence 
" of any change of system or disposition in the French 
" Republic towards the United States."] " This letter 
" of Mr. Gerry threw Pickering into so furious a rage 
" against Gerry, that in a report to me, which I request- 
" ed him to draw for me to communicate to Congress, 
" he inserted a most virulent, false and calumnious phi- 
" lippic against Gerry." [I have had occasion to re- 
mark, that Mr. Adams, subject to the raging of furious 
passions, fancies, by the aid of that sublimated imagina- 
tion which Hamilton ascribed to him, that the storm 
within his own breast is violently agitating the bosom 



of another, against whom he is discharging all its fury. 
My feelings in relation to Mr. Gerry were of a kind 
totally different from " rage." And once for all I affirm, 
that in my various interviews with Mr. Adams, there 
was never a single instance of passion on my part ; (I 
had a higher sense of the decorum proper to be observ- 
ed towards the President of the United States ;) and, 
what is not a little remarkable, but one on his ; and this 
on an occasion which would not have produced in any 
other man the smallest emotion.* Mr. Adams proceeds,] 
" I read it with amazement. I scarcely thought that 
" prejudice and party rage could go so far. I told him 
" it would not do ; it was very injurious, and totally un- 
" founded. I took my pen, and obliterated the whole 
passage as I thought, but after all I let some expres- 
sions pass which ought to have been erased." [I have 
already given a full account of the report. As printed, 
General Marshall has pronounced it correct; and the 
parts struck out, which I have accurately stated, every 
reader will see to be the natural inferences and remarks 
applicable to the notorious facts exhibited in public 
documents vouched by Mr. Gerry's own signature.] 
" Pickering reddened with rage or grief, as if he had 

* It was this. In 1794, John Q. Adams was appointed minister resident of 
the United States at the Hague. Just before General Washington's last pre- 
sidency expired, he raised J. Q. Adams to the higher grade of minister pleni- 
potentiary to Portugal. But his father soon succeeding to the office of Pre- 
sident, he changed the son's destination from Portugal to Prussia. In making 
out a new commission, I called him late, minister resident of the United States 
at the Hague ; doubting whether it would be correct to call him late minister 
plenipotentiary of the United States at the court of Lisbon, seeing that not hav- 
ing gone thither, of course he had not been received in that character. I 
concluded, however, to submit the draught to his father, to be approved or 
altered, as he pleased. He read on till he came to " late minister resident 
of the United States at the Hague," when he burst into a passion, and with a 
loud and rapid voice exclaimed, " Not late minister resident at the Hague, 
" but late minister plenipotentiary of the United States to the court of Lisbon, 
to which office he was appointed by General Washington not by me and 
" so he shall be called." Then, lowering- his tone, but speaking with earnest- 
ness, he added, " I am sorry that my son ever went abroad as a minister : 
u 1 wish he had staid at home ; for there was not a pen in the United States 
' of which the Jacobins were so much afraid as of my son's !" Where and 
what is now this wonderful son ? Among the men whom his father called 
Jacobins himself, of course, a Jacobin, And where, I may also ask, is the 
father ? When the son tacked, the father wore ship, and followed in his wake, 
Jefferson leading the van ; Jefferson, whom, not long before, the father pro- 
nounced " the deepest dissembler and most artful hypocrite he ever knew." 


" been bereaved of a darling child." [This is not a 
whit the more credible for Mr. Adams's having declar- 
ed it. While writing the parts of this letter to Cun- 
ningham, in which my name is introduced, it is evident 
that his resentments were kindled to a flame ; and thence 
he fancied that / was red hot] " He even went so far 
" as to beg that I would spare it, and let it go to Con- 
" gress. But I was inexorable ; and his hatred of me 
" has been unrelenting from that time to this." [The 
simple history of the report is this : As the President 
was to communicate it to Congress, I of course sub- 
mitted it to his inspection and correction. When I 
called for it, and found he had marked some passages 
to be struck out, I, with perfect calmness, observed, 
that it would produce some chasms, and, I apprehend- 
ed, might break the connexion of some parts of the re- 
port ; and therefore wished it to remain unmutilated. 
Mr. Adams answered, with a voice steady and slow, pre- 
cisely in these words, (I here endeavour to indicate the 
manner by the spaces between them) " I am not 
" going to send to Congress a philippic 
" against Mr. Gerry." Such is the amount of this 
mighty affair. I took the report, and had a fair copy 
made, leaving out the passages and words to which the 
President objected ; and, thus expurgated, he laid it 
before Congress. The parts struck out were of much 
less consequence than at first sight I had supposed.] 

Mr. Adams's blind prejudice in favour of Mr. Gerry 
was to me incomprehensible. I exhibit, elsewhere, an in- 
stance in which it rose to a ridiculous excess. Perceiv- 
ing that he entertained a high opinion of General Mar- 
shall, I put his journal into Mr. Adams's hands, hoping that 
some parts of it, in which his favourite was necessarily 
introduced, would lead him to form more correct ideas 
of his. character. Whether he read the journal I do 
not know: if he did, it is plain that it had no effect; 
his prejudices appear to have remained unchanged. 

On the 21st of September, 1798, 1 wrote a letter to 
Mr. Adams, at Quincy, of which the following is an ex- 


" I have a letter from General Marshall, dated at Richmond the 
15th, in which is the following passage : 

" 1 have seldom seen more extraordinary letters than those of Mr. 
Talleyrand to Mr. Gerry. He must have known in what manner 
they would have been answered before he could have ventured to 
have written them. That he should have founded a demand to Mr. 
Gerry, for the names of certain persons, on a document proving that 
Mr. Gerry had asserted Mr. Talleyrand to have recognized those 
very persons as his agents, was as pointed an insult as could have 
been given. There is a fact relative to this business, not mentioned 
in the despatches, which deserves to be known. The company at 
the private dinner, to which Mr. Gerry was invited by Mr. Talley- 
rand, consisted of X, Y and Z. After rising from the table, X and Y 
renewed to Mr. Gerry, in the room and in the presence (though per- 
haps not in the hearing) of Talleyrand, the money propositions 
which we had before rejected." 

About this time I received a letter from Mr. P. John- 
son, chairman of an assembly of citizens of Prince Ed- 
ward County in Virginia, covering an open Address to 
President Adams ; which I read. Numerous addresses, 
from all parts of the Union, had been presented to Mr, 
Adams, expressing the just resentment of his fellow- 
citizens at the deep injuries and insults which we had 
too long borne from the French Republic ; and ap- 
plauding him for the vigour he had manifested in his 
' endeavours to rouse his countrymen to resist and repel 
them. But the address from Prince Edward was of a 
character so different, and so charged with insults, 
that I refused to be the medium of conveying it to the 
President ; and had written a short letter to Mr. John- 
son, with which to send back the address ; but, just 
as I was closing it, a newspaper came to hand in which 
the address was published. I then laid aside the let- 
ter I had written, and wrote one of considerable length 
to Mr. Johnson, on the conduct of the French govern- 
ment, in order to justify our own ; and in it inserted 
the anecdote of the private dinner at Talleyrand's, 
when the money propositions were renewed. I also 
mentioned Talleyrand's demand of the names of the 
intriguers, and that Mr. Gerry complied with the in- 
sulting request. Having caused my letter to Mr. John- 
son to be printed, I enclosed a copy of it to Mr. Adams, 
who was pleased to notice it as in the following letter. 


The reader will see that it is marked private ; which 
distinguishes it from his official correspondence with 
me. As it has been his steady aim, in his letters to 
Cunningham, to vilify me, so, in order to counteract 
his design, Mr. Adams is here exhibited against him- 
self. Not that I consider approbation or praise, from 
a man so notoriously governed by his passions, b} his 
ambition, vanity and family interest, of any intrinsic 
value ; but his eulogies and censures, when brought 
together, like two different substances in chemical ope- 
rations, may neutralize each other. 

" Private." " Qtuncy, Oct. 15, 1798. 

" DEAR SIR I received your answer to the Address from Virginia, 
concinnate and consummate. My Secretary gave a hint of it to Mrs. 
Adams and she insisted upon his bringing it to her Bedside and read- 
ing it to her. She desires me to tell you, that weak and low as she 
is she has spirit enough left to be delighted with it. She says it is 
the best answer to an address that ever was written, and worth all 
that ever were written. You may well suppose that 1, who am so 
severely reflected on by these compliments, am disposed enough to 
think them extravagant. I however think the answer excellent, and 
wish you had to answer all the saucy addresses I have received. I 
don't intend to answer any more of the disrespectful ones. 
" I am with great esteem, 


But my letter to P. Johnson, though so acceptable 
to the President and Mrs. Adams, gave offence to Mr. 
Gerry, who wrote a letter of complaint concerning it 
to Mr. Adams ; and he transmitted the same to me for 
publication. I refused to publish it, and assigned this 
reason that it would then require from me animad- 
versions more wounding to Mr. Gerry's feelings than 
any of the remarks in my letter to Mr. Johnson. Mr. 
Gerry's letter was returned to the President to be re- 
stored to the writer. It was a long letter, and trifling 
as long. He intended it as a justification of the parts 
of his conduct in Paris which I had noticed in my letter 
to Mr. Johnson. Its publication would only have ex- 
posed him, even without comments, to additional re- 

The foregoing details of the conduct of Mr. Gerry 
in Paris, and of his intercourse with the French rulers, 


will, I presume, induce every reader to assent to the 
justness of the following summary of his character, in 
relation to that intercourse : " He was charmed with 
" their words, an'! duped by their professions ; he had 
" neither spirit nor penetration sufficient to negotiate 
" with men so bold, so cunning and so false." I am 
well persuaded, notwithstanding the astonishing par- 
tiality of Mr. Adams, that towards the close of the year 
1798, when the above sentiment was communicated to 
him, he thought it correct. It was the sentiment of a 
man,* of whose discernment and judgment he has al- 
ways entertained the highest opinion. 


MR. ADAMS, in his correspondence with Cunningham, 
letting slip no opportunity to revile and calumniate me, 
introduced the name of his son-in-law, Col. Smith, as a 
theme in relation to which he could vent his reproaches. 
But for this, his name would, on my part, have been 
consigned to oblivion. Compelled, in my own justifi- 
cation, to notice him, the facts stated will present a 
further elucidation of Mr. Adams's own character. 

Col. Smith, an inhabitant of New-York, was serving 
in the revolutionary war, when an inspectorship was 
established, in 1778. Baron Steuben (a German offi- 
cer, bred to arms) was appointed inspector general, 
and Smith became one of his deputies. The war end- 
ed in 1783. In February 1785, Congress determined 
on a diplomatic mission to Great-Britain, and John Ad- 
ams was elected minister plenipotentiary, to represent 
the United States at that court. In March, Smith was 
elected secretary of legation for this mission ; having 

* I think it proper to say, that it was not General Marshall; 


been nominated by Mr. M'Henry, a delegate from Ma- 
ryland, who had also served in the army, and, in the 
latter period of the war, as one of the aids de camp to 
General Washington, by whom, in 1795, he had been 
appointed secretary of war, and from which office, 
Mr. Adams, after addressing him in opprobrious lan- 
guage, ejected him, a few days prior to my own re- 
moval from the department of state. This diplomatic 
connexion led to a family one. Colonel Smith became 
the son-in-law to Mr. Adams, marrying his only daugh- 
ter. The mission was limited by Congress to three 
years, after which Smith returned to New- York. 

About this time, the government of the United States 
was formed, under the Constitution ; and when the 
funding system and the national bank had been esta- 
blished, Smith again went to England, with informa- 
tion of the advantages which capitalists might derive 
from the application of their moneys in those establish- 
ments, and in the purchase of new lands. Smith suc- 
ceeded in this scheme, and large sums were placed in 
his hands to carry it into execution. These funds ena- 
bled him to commence a very expensive style of liv- 
ing, on his return to New- York. He also engaged in 
dashing speculations, incurred debts, and soon failed ; 
injuring, of course, many creditors, and ruining his 
friend Burrows, as will presently be related. Smith 
was thus reduced to a state of dependence on his fa- 
ther-in-law ; and he, willing to relieve himself, eagerly 
embraced every opportunity of providing Smith with 
some public office. 

In July 1798, Congress passed a law for raising 
twelve regiments of infantry, in addition to the exist- 
ing military establishment. General Washington be- 
ing appointed commander in chief, he was desired to 
name the persons whom he would recommend to the 
higher offices, and particularly for the general staff 
Besides the three major generals, Hamilton, Pinckney 
and Knox, Henry Lee, John Brooks, Wm. S. Smith or 
J. E. Howard, were proposed for brigadiers ; Edward 
Hand, or Jonathan Dayton, or William S. Smith, for 


adjutant general ; and Edward Carrington for quarter 
master general. Col. Carrington had served in that 
office with the southern army, under the command of 
General Greene ; arid General Hand in the office of 
adjutant general, in the last years of the war. 

The Secretary of War, M 'Henry, having been sent 
to Mount Vernon with General Washington's commis- 
sion, I was charged with the duties of his office during 
his absence, and was with Mr. Adams when he was 
making a list of nominations to the Senate, from that 
which Mr. M'Henry had transmitted from Mount Ver- 
non by the mail. The President proposed to give 
rank to Col. Smith, as a brigadier, before Dayton, who 
had also served in the revolutionary war, and to name 
the latter for adjutant general ; but, pausing, he said, 
" I have a good mind to put Dayton before Smith, as 
" a brigadier, and to nominate Smith for adjutant gen- 
" eral ;" and added, " When I was in England, several 
" British officers, who had conversed with Col. Smith, 
" told me that he would make a distinguished military 
" character." And then, to crown the eulogy, he said, 
" Why, sir, he has seen the grand reviews of the Great 
" Frederick, at Potsdam !" This last idea appeared, 
in the President's view, decisive of Smith's great mili- 
tary pretensions. 

Leaving the President, I went to Congress hall, and 
sent the door-keeper to ask some of the Senators of 
my acquaintance to step out. I informed them of the 
nomination of Col. Smith to be adjutant general present- 
ly to be laid before them, and told them why I thought 
he ought not to be approved. The nomination was 
made ; and the Senate were inclined, at once, to give 
it their negative ; but some of Mr. Adams's particular 
friends, wishing to save the feelings of himself and his 
family, desired the Senate to postpone their decision 
till the next day ; and they would, in the mean time, 
wait on the President, and endeavour to prevail on him 
to withdraw the nomination. They did wait on him 
but in vain ; finally telling him, however, that if the 
joomination were not withdrawn, it would be negatived-, 


" I will not withdraw the nomination," was his answer. 
The next morning the nomination was taken up, : nd 
negatived by all the Senators, except two. Every cir- 
cumstance here stated was related to me immediately, 
by one or more of the Senators who were present. I 
certainly had expressed my opinion to not more than 
half a dozen Senators, all federalists ; and not to one 
who was in the " Opposition." The presumption is 
therefore conclusive, that many voted from their infor- 
mation concerning Col. Smith, independently of any 
communication from me. When I come to another 
transaction, after the new army was disbanded, it will 
appear that I had not made an erroneous estimate of 
his character. 

In letter No. XXXVIII of the " Correspondence," 
Mr. Adams says, " It is true that Pickering, at the in- 
" stigation of Hamilton, as I suppose, who was jealous 
" of Smith as a favourite of Washington, and a bet- 
" ter officer than himself, excited a faction against 
" him, and to my knowledge propagated many scanda- 
" lous falsehoods concerning him, and got him nega- 
" tived, though Washington had recommended him to 
" me." Every reader must smile at Mr. Adams's fond 
conceit, that Alexander Hamilton was jealous of Col. 
Smith, as a favourite of Washington, and a better offi- 
cer than himself! If there were the semblance of 
truth in this ridiculous assertion, it would be obvious 
to ask, Why then did not Washington name Smith to 
be inspector and major general, instead of Hamilton ; 
and put the latter with the other two gentlemen, who 
were proposed as candidates for the office of adjutant 
general ; especially as Smith had served under Steu- 
ben, in the inspector's department ? But as to Hamil- 
ton's " instigation" in the case, the fact is, that about 
noon, on the day of the nomination of Smith, I express- 
ed my opinion of him to some of the Senators, and the 
next morning it was negatived ; and Hamilton, utterly 
ignorant of the matter, was in New-York. Mr. Adams 
refrains from charging me with fabricating "scanda- 
lous falsehoods" concerning Smith ; but says I propa- 


gated them. All that I said of him (excepting in ret 
gard to his talents, of which I did not think very high- 
ly, and I expressed what I thought) I had derived from 
a very credible source, several years before ; and on 
that information gave my opinion to some Senators. 
It related to a private trust of magnitude, in which Col. 
Smith was so unfaithful, that it appeared to me unsafe 
to commit the confidential office of adjutant general to 
his hands. I was not unaware of the hazard I ran in 
speaking to Senators, in this case ; and perfectly remem- 
ber remarking to some one of them, that what I had 
said to him and others, would probably, by some means, 
come to the President's ears, and cause my removal 
from office ; but adding " I have done only what I 
thought to be my duty, and am willing to abide the 

Near the close of the year 1798, General Washing- 
Jon came to Philadelphia, to meet Generals Hamilton 
and Pinckney (Knox had refused to serve, because he 
was not appointed the first major general) to consult 
on the organization of the army. Col. Smith was a 
candidate for the command of the regiment to be rais- 
ed in the State of New- York ; but Washington and 
the major generals received information so unfavoura- 
ble to Smith's character, in point of integrity, that they 
did not recommend him. Unwilling however to reject 
him peremptorily, General Washington addressed a 
letter to the Secretary of War, in which is the follow- 
ing passage : " As well myself as the two generals 
" whose aid I have had in the nomination, have been 
" afflicted with the information, well or ill founded, that 
" he stands charged, in the opinion of his fellow-citi- 
" zens, with very serious instances of private miscon- 
" duct, [instances which affect directly his integrity as 
" a man. The instances alleged are various, but there 
" is one which has come forward in a shape which did 
" not permit us to refuse it our attention. It respects 
u an attempt knowingly to pledge property to Major 
" Burrows, by way of security, which was before con- 
" veyed to Mr. William Constable, without giving no- 


" tice of the circumstances, and with the aggravation 
" that Major Burrows had become the creditor of Col. 
" Smith, through friendship, to an amount which has 
" proved entirely ruinous to him.] While the impos- 
" sibility of disregarding this information forbad the 
" selection of Col. Smith absolutely ; yet, the possibil- 
" ity, that it might admit of some fair explanation, dis- 
" suaded from a conclusion against him. As it will be 
" in your power to obtain further light on this sub- 
" ject, it has appeared advisable to leave this matter 
" in the undetermined form in which it is presented, 
" and to assign the reason for it. You are at perfect 
" liberty to communicate this letter to the President. 
" Candour is particularly due to him in such case. It 
" is my wish to give him every proof of frankness, re- 
" spect and esteem." This letter is dated at Philadel- 
phia. December 13, 1798. On the 17th, Mr. M'Hen- 
ry, the secretary of war, wrote a very kind letter to 
Col. Smith, and enclosed a copy of General Washing- 
ton's, for the purpose of obtaining the explanation of 
the transaction referred to. Smith, on the 20th, answer- 
ed in a very long explanatory letter ; which, no doubt, 
was perfectly satisfactory to his father-in-law, President 
Adams, who was never disposed to believe any thing ad- 
verse to the character and interest of any of his family. 
Col. Smith was nominated to the Senate, and the nomi- 
nation received their assent. Col. Smith's explanation, 
however, differed widely from that of Major Burrows, 
whom, profiting of his generous friendship, he had redu- 
ced from a genteel competency to absolute beggary ; 
to a condition still worse ; for, after selling his whole es- 
tate, to fulfil his pecuniary engagements for Smith, he 
was yet left involved, on the same account, and at the 
mercy of his creditors, whose forbearance, only, saved 
him from a jail. 

The mission to France in 1799, suddenly instituted 
by President Adams, striking the public mind like a 
shock of electricity soon paralyzed the increased and 
increasing energies of the nation, animated with the 
brilliant actions of our infant navy ; and there being a 


prospect that a treaty of peace would be the result, 
the new little army was disbanded, in the summer of 
1800. Col. Smith being again without employment, 
the President appointed him surveyor of the district 
of New-York, and inspector of the revenue for the 
ports within the same. But this appointment being 
made in the recess of the Senate, it was necessary 
to nominate him to that body, on their assembling in 
November 1800, at the city of Washington. This no- 
mination (as usual when objections or doubts concern- 
ing the candidate exist) was referred to a committee, 
of which the late Gouverneur Morris was chairman.* 
This nomination of an officer of the customs pertaining 
to the treasury department, the committee, of course, 
applied there for information. The secretary answer- 
ed, that he possessed no information respecting this 
nomination of Col. Smith. The committee, however, 
received recommendations, under respectable names, 
in favour of Col. Smith ; besides letters from the col- 
lector and naval officer, certifying Col. Smith's dili- 
gence in his new office. It should be remembered, that 
Smith was then standing on his good behaviour : his 
continuance in office depended on the approbation of 
the Senate, upon a nomination to be made to that body. 
Other papers were delivered to the committee by the 
Secretary of the Senate, which, as he informed them, 
had been entrusted to him for that purpose by the 
President of the United States. One of the latter pur- 
ported to be a copy of a letter of December 13, 1798, 
from General Washington to the secretary of war, of 
which I have just given an extract. But all that part 
of the extract which I have included between brackets 
was omitted ; that is, all that related to Major Bur- 

Col. Smith's name being thus again brought before 
the Senate, when nominated to be surveyor of the cus- 
toms for the district of New- York ; and gentlemen re- 

* It is proper for me to remind the reader, that I had been removed by Mr. 
Adams in the preceding month of May ; but the facts I am going to state rcfst 
an authentic documents, copies of which are now before me. 


collecting objections made two years before, which 
prevented Washington, with his two generals, decid- 
edly recommending Smith for a military commission ; 
the nomination was committed, as already mentioned. 
The committee received and collected, in the course 
of two months, a mass of information, which, some time 
in February 1801 (when the session of Congress and 
Mr. Adams's presidency were near expiring) they re- 
ported in gross to the Senate. The whole, in my copy, 
occupies eighty-six pages of large letter paper. The 
impression left on my mind, from the information I re- 
ceived of the transaction, from one or more of the Se- 
nators, is, that the papers were not read in the Senate ; 
unless, perhaps, by some individuals, who would toil 
through them in the few remaining busy days of the 
session ; and, under these circumstances, the nomina- 
tion was approved, with only eight negatives, among 
whom was Gouverneur Morris, chairman of the com- 
mittee, and perfectly possessed of all the evidence in 
the case ; and no one will question his discernment or 
impartiality in judging. There are other distinguished 
names, among the negatives, of gentlemen still living. 

But I have not done with these documents. The 
copy of General Washington's letter, relative to Smith, 
and which was communicated by President Adams, by 
the hands of Secretary Otis, to the Senate, was, as 
above remarked, essentially mutilated, and on the spe- 
cific point which required explanation, the case of Major 

Together with the mutilated copy of General Wash- 
ington's letter, President Adams sent to the Senate 
what purported to be a copy of Col. Smith's explana- 
tory letter, before mentioned ; but so mutilated as to 
be reduced from eight pages to less than four, accord- 
ing to the copies of both in my hands ; every part re- 
specting Burrows being omitted. But, besides the 
mutilations in both of these singular copies, there were 
a few interpolations ; some to amend the style, and 
others to give a fairer aspect to Smith's explanations. 
Bv whom these alterations and amendments were made. 


does not appear. Col. Smith could not have been so 
indiscreet ; for he had transmitted genuine copies, with 
other papers (ten in all) to the President of the Senate, 
Mr. Jefferson, to be laid before that body ; but which 
Mr. Jefferson sent to Mr. Morris, chairman of the 
committee, as appears by his letter of December 15, 

Such instances of reprehensible management, as 
these documents exhibited, it was obviously supposed, 
would not be suffered to remain on the files of the Se- 
nate. President Adams did withdraw them, and (as 
the information rests on my memory) the very next 
day. Apprehensive of this, some of the Senators, by 
diligent application, and setting up at night, took co- 
pies of them. These copies have been fifteen or 
twenty years in my possession, unseen till now ; and 
no part of them might ever have seen the light, but for 
Mr. Adams's malicious calumnies, respecting my con- 
duct in relation to Smith, in his letters to Cunning- 
ham ; intended, with his other calumnies, eventually to 
be published ; to the mortification of my children and 
children's children of many affectionate relatives 
and of numerous respectable friends, so long as my 
name should be remembered. 

I leave the reader to his own reflections on this ma- 
nagement of President Adams to obtain the Senate's 
approbation of his son-in-law, Col. Smith, to be survey- 
or of the customs at New- York ; only remarking, that 
the nomination appears to have taken place without the 
privity of the Secretary of the Treasury, to whose de- 
partment the matter belonged. To the application of 
the committee for information, the Secretary (in his 
letter of Dec. 26, 1800) answered, "I possess no infor- 
" mation respecting the nomination which the Presi- 
" dent of the United States has been pleased to make 
" of William S. Smith, Esq. to be surveyor for the dis- 
" trict of New-York, and inspector of the revenue for 
" the ports in that district." 

The very serious instances of private misconduct, 
affecting directly Col. Smith's integrity as a man, refer- 


red to in General Washington's letter, and the specific 
case respecting Major Burrows, to which Smith ascribes 
the negative to his nomination as adjutant general, were 
unknown to me when I expressed to some Senators my 
opinion that it was not expedient to confer on Smith 
that confidential office; although, by the documents 
before me, I find those " serious instances" were known 
in New- York two years before ; and hence, doubtless, 
the negative votes of many of the Senators may be ac- 
counted for; although Mr. Adams has been pleased, 
for the purpose of reproach, to ascribe to me impor- 
tance and influence enough to determine the votes of 
the Senate : he says, that I " got Smith negatived." 
That opinion of mine rested wholly on the information 
already intimated, accidentally given me, three or four 
years before, by a gentleman of fair character, with 
whom I was acquainted. This was, Col. Smith's un- 
faithfulness in a trust of magnitude committed to him 
by Sir William Pulteney, a wealthy Englishman. 

Having introduced the serious charge against Smith, 
in General Washington's letter, but which he said might 
possibly admit of a fair explanation, candour requires 
that I should notice what Smith said. He roundly de- 
nies, but with too much bluster, that he had "know- 
ingly" pledged property to Burrows which was before 
conveyed to Mr. Constable ; and says it was by a mere 
mistake, an inadvertence, that his titles to some real 
estate, already conveyed to Constable, were produced 
to Burrows's counsel, as of property still his own; and 
which, by that means, was included with other real es- 
tate then conveyed to Burrows ; to whom, however, it 
made a difference of ten thousand dollars loss ; and 
Smith had no other property to give as a substitute. 
It is not a little remarkable, that Smith should have 
forgotten the conveyance (not of long standing per- 
haps a year or two) of city lots in New-York, to Con- 
stable, of the value of ten thousand dollars ; though the 
thing is possible. But this explanatory letter of Smith's 
if it deserve the name is marked with ingratitude, 
and replete with misrepresentations, respecting Major 


Burrows ; as any one would perceive on the perusal of 
the candid statement of the latter to the Senate's com- 
mittee, furnished at their request. Its great length ne- 
cessarily excludes it from this Review. 

After all that Burrows could obtain of Smith, towards 
the large sums he had been obliged to pay for him, 
Smith remained deeply his debtor. Burrows then com- 
menced a suit against him, with a view to get hold of 
any property of his which might be discovered. Smith 
found bail ; but the bail being alarmed, they insisted on 
Smith's relieving them, by surrendering himself to the 
sheriff; who must have committed him to jail. In this 
forlorn situation, Smith wrote to Burrows, praying to 
be relieved ; for he was then going from camp to New- 
York, to save his bail. That generous hearted man, 
totally ruined as he had been by Smith, instantly re- 
lieved him ; saying, he would rather burn his bond than 
disgrace or injure him. General Hamilton wrote to 
Burrows for the same purpose ; and, as the letter is not 
a long one, and has, besides its kindness, some plea- 
santry in it, I give it entire ; the rather, because Mr. 
Adams represents Hamilton (ridiculous as is the idea) 
to have been jealous of Smith's superior military tal- 
ents, and his enemy. 


" New-York, March 10, 1800. 

" The anxiety of Col. Smith's bail to your suit had like to have 
shut him up yesterday in our prison. The good nature of Col. Troup* 
interposed to save him from the disgrace. You would have been 
sorry if it had happened because you are not vindictive, and be- 
cause it would utterly have ruined him, without doing you the least 
good. Many considerations induce me to second the advice you will 
receive from Col. Troup namely, to accept John Doe and Richard 
Roe, characters of ancient renown in the law, for your bail, and to 
proceed to judgment on that basis. If Smith has any real estate, that 
will secure it ; and as to his body, it had better continue fat and jolly, 
to present a good front to his country's enemies, than to be sent to 
pine and grow meagre in a nasty jail. Adieu. 

Your's truly, A. HAMILTON/' 

* Col. Troup was Major Bnrrows's counsel. 



I have but slightly adverted to Col. Smith's unfaith- 
fulness in the trust he accepted from Sir William Pul- 
teney. I am now possessed of particular and authentic 
details of his gross mismanagement (to use a gentle 
term) of the property of that gentleman, and of Gover- 
nor Hornby ; together, amounting to sixty thousand 
pounds sterling (equal to 266,400 dollars) committed 
to Smith, to be applied (on very liberal commissions) 
to their use, in the United States ; where advantageous 
speculations presented, in the purchase of funded debt, 
bank stock, and new lands ; but of which Smith made 
no returns. The whole was so soon dissipated, that in 
1796 he began to borrow money; and before the close 
of that year he ruined his friend Burrows. The agents 
of Pulteney and Hornby gathered something from the 
wrecks of the property acquired by Smith with their 

I forbear to say more on this subject ; what I have 
stated being sufficient to show the substantial correct- 
ness of the information on which I thought myself 
bound to interfere, to prevent his obtaining the office 
of adjutant general. 

The statement I ha^ve here made suggests the fol- 
lowing questions. Ca/n it be supposed that Mr. Adams 
was ignorant of Col. Smith's conduct in relation to the 
funds of Pulteney and Hornby? If not uninformed, 
what can be offered to justify his nominating him to an 
office in the Revenue department of the United States? 
And why was the nomination made (as it seems to have 
been) without the privity of the secretary of the trea- 

Col. Smith lost his office in the revenue department 
in the following manner : 

The name of General Miranda was familiar in the 
United States, at one period of Mr. Jefferson's presi- 
dency. He was a Spaniard, born (as I understood) in 
one of the Spanish American provinces. He had been 
in France, at one period of her revolution ; and, serv- 
ing in her armies, in the rank of major general, barely 
escaped the guillotine, when it was so common to cut 


off the heads of their military commanders. After this, 
Miranda came to America, and visited the city of Wash- 
ington, where he spent some time. From thence he 
repaired to New- York, and there engaged practically in 
a project of revolutionizing one of the Spanish pro- 
vinces. A band of Americans, encouraged perhaps by 
visions of wealth to be acquired in the country of sil- 
ver and gold, were induced to embark with him in the 
expedition. Col. Smith, then surveyor of the customs 
for the New- York district, aided Miranda, in forward- 
ing the enterprise ; and, if I do not mistake, permitted 
one of his sons to go with him. This wild, because so 
premature a project, and so deficient in means, neces- 
sarily failed, and the Americans were made prisoners. 
The Spanish minister complained of this outrage 
against the territory of a nation with whom the United 
States were at peace. The thing was notorious. To 
appease the Spaniard, President Jefferson deprived 
Smith of his office ; and the expedition having been 
set on foot, and the means for it prepared, within the 
United States, in violation of an express law of the 
Union, Smith was prosecuted for a breach of it. His 
apology for engaging in it was, that Miranda informed 
him, that Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison approved of 
his plan. This was stated by Smith, soon after he had 
been deprived of his office, in a long letter to his brother- 
in-law, J. Q. Adams, then in the Senate of the United 
States. Smith, thinking that in Miranda's information 
gentlemen would find an excuse for his engaging in the 
expedition, desired the letter might be shown ; and 
Mr. Adams put it into my hands to read. 



_ IN Mr. Hamilton's Letter on the Public Conduct and 
Character of John Adams, President of the United 
States, published in 1800, prior to the election of Pre- 
sident and Vice President, to take place in December 
of that year, Mr. Adams is censured for his various 
measures which resulted in the institution (in February 
1799) of a mission to France, to negotiate a treaty 
with her government. This last measure, suddenly 
taken, without the previous knowledge of a single fed- 
eralist, in or out of the government, occasioned uni- 
versal surprise. A decided majority of the nation had 
been roused to a just resistance of French aggressions. 
Success attended the vigorous measures of the United 
States ; French armed vessels were captured ; and our 
commerce received protection. A continuance of the 
same spirited measures would naturally increase the 
public ardour. 

In this state of things, Mr. Hamilton expressed his 
belief, that there was a real alteration in public opinion ; 
and, hence, that a negotiation to restore peace and a 
friendly intercourse with France, might be more safe- 
ly and advantageously conducted at Philadelphia than 
at Paris ; without hazard of dangerous intrigues by any 
French minister who should be sent to the United States. 
Mr. Adams takes this occasion to say not only that 
Hamilton's conceptions of public opinion were errone- 
ous, but intimates that he was incapable of judging cor- 
rectly in the case ; for which he assigns these reasons 
" That he was born and bred in the West Indies, till 
" he went to Scotland for education, where he spent 
" his time in a seminary of learning till seventeen years 
" of age ; after which, no man ever acquired a national 
" character ; then entered a college at New-York, from 
" whence he issued into the army an aid de camp. In 


" these situations he could scarcely acquire the opinions, 
" feelings or principles of the American people."* 
This quotation presents a statement marked with Mr. 
Adams's usual incorrectness ; and his inference from 
his assumed facts is on a par with his statement. To 
exhibit his errors, and at the same time gratify the 
reader, I will subjoin a sketch of Mr. Hamilton's early 

This eminent man, the son of a Scotch merchant, 
was born in the island of Nevis, in the West Indies ; 
and, as soon as he was old enough to be so employed, 
became a clerk in the counting house of Nicholas Cru- 
ger, a merchant from New-York, who was settled in 
the island of St. Croix. Boy as he was, the conscious- 
ness of a superior intellect satisfied him that a merchant's 
store was not the proper place for the exertion of his 
talents. When past the age of thirteen years, he was 
sent to New-York for his education. After the prepa- 
ratory school instruction, he entered the college in that 
city. The controversy between the British Colonies 
and the Mother Country employed, at that period, the 
tongues and the pens of the most eminent men in 
America. Hamilton, though engaged in his collegiate 
exercises, was not an unobserving spectator of the 
passing scenes. 

" In this contest with Great-Britain (says Dr. Mason) 
" which called forth every talent and every passion, 
" Hamilton's juvenile pen asserted the claims of the 
" Colonies, against writers from whom it would dero- 
" gate to say that they were merely respectable. An 
" unknown antagonist, whose thrust was neither to be 
" repelled nor parried, excited inquiry ; and when he 
" began to be discovered, the effect was so apparently 
" disproportioned to the cause, that his papers were 
" ascribed to a statesman who then held a happy sway 
" in the councils of his country, who has since render- 
" ed her most essential services, and who still lives to 
" adorn her name.t But the truth could not long be 

* Letter XII, May 26, 1809, published in the Boston Patriot, 
f John Jay. 


" concealed. The powers of Hamilton created their 
" own evidence ; and America saw, with astonish- 
" ment, a lad of seventeen* in the rank of her advo- 
" cates, at a time when her advocates were patriots 
" and sages."t 

In the year 1775, after the commencement of hostili- 
ties, " Hamilton attached himself to one of the uniform 
" companies of militia then forming in the city for the de- 
" fence of the country, and devoted much time and at- 
" tention to their exercises. In the early part of 1776, 
" he received, from the Provincial Congress of New- 
" York, the appointment of captain of one of the inde- 
" pendent companies of artillery."! "It was while he 
" was training this company, that, for the first time he 
"was seen by General Greene; to whose discerning 
" eye something more appeared in the conduct of the 
" young captain than was ordinarily exhibited in the 
" parade exercises of that office." Near the close of 
the campaign of 1776, Hamilton was introduced into 
General Washington's family, as an aid de camp. In 
this situation he continued until the winter of 1780-1. 
In 1782-3, he was a delegate from the State of New- 
York in the Congress of the United States. It was 
while a member of that body that he saw the letters 
and communications from our ministers at European 
courts, and among them those of Johri Adams, then 
minister plenipotentiary to the States of Holland, and 
one of the commissioners for negotiating a peace with 
Great-Britain. These negotiations were carried on at 
Paris, to which city Mr. Adams came from the Hague. 
Mr. Jay, already there, had taken certain decisive pre- 
liminary steps, without the concurrence of Dr. Frank- 
lin, our resident minister in France, and another of the 
peace commissioners. Franklin, caressed by the 
French, was disposed implicitly to obey an instruction 

* Col. Nicholas Fish, a fellow student of Hamilton's, informs me that he 
was about eighteen ; and that he saw some of Hamilton's essays before they 
went to the press. 

f Doctor Mason's oration on the death of Hamilton. 

t Letter of December 26, 1823, from Col. Fish. 

j Judge Johnson's Life of Greene. 


from Congress, wholly different in spirit from former 
acts of that body, and unworthy of its well earned pub- 
lic reputation. The object of that instruction was, to 
submit the terms of the treaty of peace with Great- 
Britain absolutely to the French court, excepting in 
the single article of our independence. This instruc- 
tion was obtained, undoubtedly, through the influence 
of the French minister to the United States, the Count 
de la Luzerne, and of the able secretary of legation, 
Mr. Marbois. Had this instruction been implicitly 
obeyed, and had the British government concurred 
with the plans of the French court, the fisheries, the 
territory west of the Allegany mountain, and the navi- 
gation of the Mississippi, would have been lost to the 
United States. Mr. Jay, with the foresight, wisdom, firm- 
ness and patriotism which have always distinguished 
him, resisted : he laid aside his instructions, and alone 
commenced the negotiation, in a manner to do honour 
to an able, upright and independent American citizen. 
Mr. Adams came to Paris : his views coincided with 
Mr. Jay's ; and, eventually, Dr. Franklin co-operated 
with thetn. Peace was made on terms advantageous 
beyond the most sanguine expectations ; notwithstand- 
ing which, an attempt was made by the members un- 
der French influence for there was then, as there has 
been since, a French party in Congress to censure 
the commissioners ; but it failed ; and praise instead of 
censure was bestowed on them. Hamilton, " dreading 
" the preponderance of foreign influence, as the natural 
" disease of a popular government, was struck at the 
" appearance, in the very cradle of our republic, of a 
" party actuated by an undue complaisance to foreign 
" power ; and resolved at once to resist this bias in our 
" affairs ;" " a resolution (says Hamilton) which has 
" been the chief cause of the persecution I have en- 
" dured in the subsequent stages of my political life."* 
The agency of Mr. Adams in the peace negotiation 
made a favourable impression on the mind of Hamil- 

* Hamilton's Letter on the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, 
President of the United States. 


ton, but not without alloy. A scrutiny of Mr. Adams's 
several communications to Congress produced in the 
mind of Hamilton the following result : He says, " I 
" then adopted an opinion, w r hich all my subsequent 
" experience has confirmed, that he is of an imagina- 
" tion sublimated and eccentric ; propitious neither to 
" the regular display of sound judgment, nor to steady 
" perseverance in a systematic plan of conduct ; and I 
" began to perceive, what has been since too manifest, 
" that to this defect are added the unfortunate foibles 
" of a vanity without bounds, and a jealousy capable of 
" discolouring every object."* I greatly mistake if the 
reader has not found, in this Review, abundant confir- 
mation of the correctness of Hamilton's opinion. 

It was in the year 1777, that I first saw Hamilton, 
and perceived his importance in the military family of 
General Washington. The subsequent acts of his pub- 
lic life, and the eminent and disinterested services he 
rendered to the United States, inspired me with the 
highest ideas of his talents and worth. As an Aid de 
Camp to the Commander in Chief, he saw the princi- 
pal operations of the main army during four years ; but 
had no command of troops, except of a detachment at 
the siege of Yorktown, with which he stormed and took 
a redoubt. A man of genius, however, will promptly 
grasp any subject ; while a common mind is learning 
the rudiments, which, by slow degrees, are to conduct 
him to the knowledge of it. When, therefore, in 1798, 
a small army was to be raised, in addition to our peace 
establishment, I had no hesitation as to the person best 
qualified to command it. Of the citizens of the United 
States who had seen service, I knew not one to place in 
competition with him. It was while I was in this state 
of mind, that the following dialogue took place between 
Mr. Adams and me. 

Mr. Mams. " Whom shall we appoint comman- 
der in chief?" "Colonel Hamilton." Mr. Adams 
made no reply. On another day, he repeated the same 
question, and I gave him the same answer : he did not 

* The same Letter. 


reply. On another day, he for the third time asked me, 
" Whom shall we appoint commander in chief?" and 
the third time I answered " Colonel Hamilton." " O 
no !" replied Mr. Adams, " it is not his turn by a great 
" deal ; I would sooner appoint Gates, or Lincoln, or 
" Morgan." Instantly I rejoined to this effect : " Gene- 
" ral Morgan is here a member of Congress, now very 
" sick, apparently with one foot in the grave ; certainly 
" a very brave and meritorious officer, in our revolution- 
" ary war ; and perhaps his present sickness may be 
" the consequence of the hardships and sufferings to 
" which he was then subjected ; but, if he were in full 
" health, the command of a brigade would be deemed 
" commensurate with his talents. As for Gates, he is 
" now an old woman ; and Lincoln is always asleep."* 
Mr. Adams made no reply. 

Washington being, on this occasion, appointed com- 
mander in chief, the secretary of war (M'Henry) was 
directed to carry his commission to Mount Vernon. 
Knowing Mr. Adams's aversion to Hamilton, and ap- 
prehensive that he would either not be called into ser- 
vice, or if nominated to any office, that it would be in 
a rank so much below his merit that he would not and 
ought not to accept it, I took the liberty of writing to 
General Washington the following letter, t 

* My remark on the military characters of the gentlemen named by Mr. 
Adams, whom he would prefer to Hamilton for the command of the army, 
may perhaps be thought not quite so respectful to the President of the United 
States as became the dignity of his station. But if it was frankness in excess, 
it will at least show that I was not inclined to "mask" my opinions. My re- 
mark was instantaneous, but calm. Mr. Adams has totally misrepresented 
my character. All my life long- 1 have been so accustomed freely to express 
my opinions, that some of my friends have occasionally regretted that I was 
so little reserved ; that I did not conceal my sentiments, when, though cor- 
rect, they might give offence ; in a word, that I did not sometimes wear a 
" mask." I meant no reproach to Lincoln. His lethargic habit was a con- 
stitutional infirmity. When I made the winter campaign, in 1776-7, with 
the Massachusetts' militia under liis command, he told me, that prior to the 
war, when he represented the town of Hingham in the legislature, he used to 
ride home (a distance, then, of 16 to 20 miles) every Saturday night, on 
horseback, and commonly slept half the way. It was easy for him to fall 
asleep at any time, when in a sitting posture. In other respects he was a 
vigilant officer. But at this time he was a cripple from a wound received in 
the revolutionary war, and of an advanced age. 

f I desire it may be noticed, that when I wrote this letter, I had had no 



^ Philadelphia, July G, 1798, 11 o'clock at night. 
- Snt My attachment to my country, and my desire to promote its 
best interests, I trust, have never been equivocal ; and at this time I 
feel extreme anxiety that our army should be organized in the most 
efficient manner. The enemy whom we are preparing to encounter, 
veterans in arms, led by able and active officers, and accustomed to 
victory, must be met by the best blood, talents, energy and experi- 
ence that our country can produce. Great military abilities are the 
portion of but few men, in any nation, even the most populous and 
warlike. How very few, then, may we expect to find in the United 
States ! In them the arrangements should be so made that not one 
might be lost. 

" There is one man who will gladly be your second, but who will 
not, I presume, because I think he ought not to be the second to any 
other military commander in the United States. You too well know 
Col. Hamilton's distinguished ability, energy and fidelity to apply 
my remark to any other man. But to ensure his appointment, I ap- 
prehend the weight of your opinion may be necessary. From the 
conversation that 1 and others have had with the President, there 
appears to be a disinclination to place Col. Hamilton in what we 
think is his proper station, and that alone in which we suppose he 
will serve the Second to you, and the Chief in your absence. In 
any war, and especially in such a war as now impends, a commander 
in chief ought to know and have a confidence in the officers most es- 
sential to ensure success to his measures. In a late conversation 
wilh the President, I took the liberty to observe, that the army in 
question not being yet raised, the only material object to be contem- 
plated in the early appointment of the commander in chief would 
be, that he might be consulted, because he ought to be satisfied, in 
the choice of the principal officers who should serve under him. 

u If any considerations should prevent your taking the command of 
the army, I deceive myself extremely if you will not think that it 
should be conferred on Col. Hamilton. And in this case it may be 
equally necessary, as in the former, that you should intimate your 
opinion to the President Even Col. Hamilton's political enemies, I 
believe, would repose more confidence in him than in any other mil- 
itary character that can be placed in competition with him. 

" This letter is in its nature confidential, and therefore can pro- 
cure me the displeasure of no one : but the appointment of Col. 
Hamilton, in the manner suggested, appears to me of such vast im- 
portance to the welfare of the country, that I am willing to risk any 
consequences of my frank and honest endeavours to secure it. On 
this ground I assure myself you will pardon the freedom of this ad- 
dress. I am, with perfect respect, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 


u P. S. Mr. M'Henry is to set off to-morrow, or on Monday, bear- 
ing your commission. 

" General WASHINGTON." 

sort of communication with Hamilton on the subject : it was a spontaneous 
act on my part to secure his services to the country. 


To this letter, I was favoured with a long and confi- 
dential answer, dated July llth, in which the General 
went into a consideration of the kind of warfare to be 
expected, in case of an invasion by the French, and to 
which the military arrangements should have relation. 
The following paragraph is the only one I feel at liber- 
ty to introduce ; and this, because important in justifi- 
cation of my conduct on the occasion. 

" Of the abilities and fitness of the gentleman you have named for 
a high command in the Provisional Army, I think as you do, and that 
his services ought to be secured at almost any price. What the diffi- 
culties are that present themselves to the mind of the President, in 
opposition to this measure, I am entirely ignorant ; but in confidence, 
and with the frankness you have disclosed your own sentiments on 
this occasion, I will unfold mine, under the view I have taken of the 
prospect before us ; and shall do it concisely." 

I was also happy in finding my ideas on this subject 
coincident with those of Mr. Jay, who was then Gover- 
nor of New-York. In his letter to me, dated July 18, 
J798, he said, " Being of the number of those who ex- 
" pect a severe war with France the moment she makes 
"peace with Britain, I feel great anxiety that nothing 
" may be omitted to prepare for it ;" and then, glan- 
cing at the kind of generals we should have to contend 
with, Mr. Jay proceeded " I cannot conceal from 
" you my solicitude that the late secretary of the trea- 
" sury" [Hamilton] " may be brought forward in a 
" manner corresponding with his talents and services. 
" It appears to me that his former military station and 
" character, taken in connexion with his late important 
" place in the administration, would justify measuring 
" his rank by his merit and value." 

The unexampled insults and injuries inflicted by 
France on the government and people of the United 
States, as herein before described, were sufficient, an 
impartial observer would suppose, to rouse the spirit 
of every American citizen to a determined resistance, 
and to repel force by force. But this unhappily was 
not the case : many of our citizens appeared more in- 
clined to criminate their own government than that of 
France. There was, however, a decided majority well 


disposed to provide the means of protecting our com- 
merce, and defending our country. Our treaties with 
France, grossly violated on her part, ceased to be ob- 
ligatory on the United States ; and Congress declared 
them to be void. Naval hostilities were authorized by 
an act of Congress, for the purpose of capturing all 
French armed vessels. Several of these were taken ; 
and our commerce received protection. 

In this state of things, apprehensions were entertain- 
ed that a formal war with France might ensue. A 
peace between her and England, for which the party 
(with the celebrated Mr. Fox at its head) in opposition 
to the government, were zealously contending, would 
remove the only obstruction to an invasion of our coun- 
try by a French fleet and army. Under these circum- 
stances, a prudent foresight justified and required the 
raising of a small army, as a suitable preparatory mea- 
sure of defence. It would be a nucleus, around which, 
should it become necessary, additional forces might be 
collected, to whom the previous training of the former 
would facilitate the speedy acquisition of the know- 
ledge of discipline, to qualify them for actual service. 
Accordingly, Congress authorized the raising of twelve 
regiments of infantry and six troops of cavalry, in ad- 
dition to the small peace establishment. But the same 
party in our country, which had before steadily oppos- 
ed the federal administration, resisted the present mea- 
sure. Indeed, no inconsiderable portion of our citizens 
appeared willing to make any sacrifice to France, al- 
though at the expense of the honour as well as the in- 
terests of their own country. For this reason, espe- 
cially, it was deemed expedient to place in the command 
of the army its most popular military citizen ; and on 
Washington it was accordingly conferred. This policy 
was doubtless correct. But, for myself, I thought only 
of that man of eminent talents who" had been in service 
during nearly the whole of our revolutionary war, and 
the greater part of the time in General Washington's 
military family : this was Colonel Hamilton. I Knew 
Washington's advanced age, and his strong predileo 


lion for a retired and rural life. He had himself avow- 
ed it. I knew that so long before as 1783, when he 
resigned to Congress his military commission, he 
manifested a determination never again to appear in 
office on the national theatre.* And after he retired 
from the presidency, I had not contemplated any fu- 
ture crisis in the affairs of our country, which would 
render it proper to interrupt his repose, and call him 
from that retirement to the field.t 

The Secretary of War, when charged with Wash- 
ington's commission, was instructed b}^ the President 
to consult the General as to the principal officers to 
be appointed to the army ; and he transmitted, from 
Mount Vernon, by the mail, the General's list, con- 
taining the names of gentlemen who had served in the 
revolutionary army, and designated the stations in 
which they should be placed. At the head of this list, 
and in the following order, were the names of 

Alexander Hamilton, inspector general and major 
general ; 

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, major general ; 

Henry Knox, major general.. 

And in this order they were nominated to the Senate. 
When the nominations were taken up for considera- 
tion, some of the Senators, who knew Mr. Adams's 
antipathy to Hamilton, proposed (as I was at the time 
informed) that they should act on the nomination of 
Hamilton, and postpone their decision on the other 
two till the next day ; lest, if all were approved on the 
same day, in which case all their commissions would 
bear the same date, Mr. Adams should derange that 
order, and raise Pinckney and Knox above Hamilton. 

* " I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments 
of public life," were his words. Congress journal, Dec. 23, 1783. 

f How distressing 1 it was to him to be called forth at the period here refer- 
red to, cannot be more forcibly expressed than in his own words : " If a crisis 
should arrive, when a sense of duty, or a call from my country, should become 
so imperious as to leave me no choice, I should prepare for relinquishment, 
and go with as much reluctance from my present peaceful abode, as I should 
go to the tombs of my ancestors." Letter from the General in answer to 
Col. Hamilton's of May 19, 1798, in Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. v, 
p. 748. 


But it was answered, that it was the constant usage,* that 
persons nominated and approved, on the same day, to 
the same grade of office, should take the rank in the 
order in which they were nominated and approved ; 
and that surely Mr. Adams would not violate that es- 
tablished rule. So the Senate approved of all the 
three nominations on the same day.t 

For some cause or other- I supposed under the im- 
pulse of the irritation occasioned by the negative put 
by the Senate on his son-in-law Col. Smith, as before 
related Mr. Adams very suddenly, and without ap- 
prising the heads of departments of his intention, push- 
ed off for Quincy, the place of his residence near Bos- 
ton ; leaving his " incompetent secretaries'^ at the 
seat of government, to perform, besides the ordinary 
executive duties, those arising from the acts of the 
very important session of Congress just ended. There 
was at that time no navy department ; and the issuing 
of commissions of letters of marque had been assigned 
to the department of state. These being prepared, I 
went to the President's house, by nine in the morning 
(the day I do not recollect) to obtain his signature ; 
when, to my astonishment, his steward informed me 
that he had already set off for Quincy. I hastened 
back to my office, made up a packet of blank commis- 
sions, and forwarded them by mail to New-York, to the 
care of one of his sons then living in that city. There 
the packet came to the President's hands. He signed 
the commissions, and returned them to me. But this 
caused a delay of two or three days, when a number of 
merchant vessels, in different ports, armed and manned 
for letters of marque, and ready for sea, were waiting 
for their commissions. 

The Secretary of War made out the commissions for 
Hamilton first, Pinckney second, and Knox third, ma- 
jor general, and sent them to Quincy, for the Presi- 

* Grounded on a resolve of the Old Congress, January 4, 1776. 

f Congress had already adjourned; and the senators, impatient to depart, 
remained in session only to pass on the military nominations. It was then the 
middle of July. 

| Such, I remember to have been informed, was the term by which lie 
sometimes designated the heads of departments. 


tlent's signature. He wrote to the Secretary, that in 
his opinion Knox was entitled to rank as first major 
general, Pinckney as the second, and Hamilton as the 
third ; and directed, that if General Washington should 
concur in that opinion, he should conform the commis- 
sions to that order. Possessed of this information, and 
having already interested myself to secure to Hamil- 
ton the first place after the commander in chief, I ad- 
dressed, on the first of September, a second letter to 
Washington ; in which I examined at large the alleged 
reasons for giving Knox the precedence, arid demon- 
strated (as I thought) their invalidity. The General 
honoured me with his answer, dated the 9th. It was 
a long letter, in relation to the new army. The fol- 
lowing extracts, pointing most directly to tjie present 
subject, are all that I need introduce. 

" Your private letter of the first instant came duly to hand, and I 
beg you to be persuaded that no apology will ever be necessary for 
any confidential communications you may be disposed to entrust me 

" In every public transaction of my life, my aim has been to do 
that which appeared to me to be most conducive to its weal. Keep- 
ing this object always in view, no local considerations, or private 
gratifications, incompatible therewith, can ever render information 
displeasing to me from those in whom I have confidence, and who, I 
know, have the best opportunities of acquiring a knowledge of facts 
in matters which may be interesting to our country, and essential for 
myself as its servant. 

" Having troubled you with this exordium and egotism, I do not 
only thank you for the full and judicious observations relative to the 
discontents of General Knox, at being appointed junior major gene- 
ral in the augmented corps, but I shall do the same for your further 
occasional remarks on this, or any other subject which may be inter- 
esting and proper for me to know ; that I may thereby regulate my 
own conduct in such a manner as to render it beneficial and accepta- 
ble to the community, in matters which depend on correct informa- 
tion not in my power to obtain in the ordinary course, without aid. n 

The General then mentions his early writing to Gene- 
ral Knox, stating the principle upon which the arrange- 
ment of the major generals had been made ; and that 
he was not a little surprised to find in his answer an 
expression of great dissatisfaction at the measure. 
General Washington replied, in order to conciliate 
Knox ; but in vain. 


Before the Secretary of War could have written to 
and received an answer from General Washington, res- 
pecting the order in which the three major generals 
should take rank, another letter was received from the 
President, peremptorily requiring him to make out their 
commissions in the order of Knox, Pinckney, Hamilton^ 
Upon which I again wrote to General Washington. 
The subsequent decisive proceeding on his part finally 
induced the President (certainly to his extreme morti- 
fication) to recur to the old rule, from which he ought 
never to have departed; and the commissions were 
made out according to the General's arrangement. The 
President's departure from it was a violation of the 
general condition on which Washington accepted the 
chief com^ and. 

Several motives to this incorrect conduct of Presi- 
dent Adams may be assigned. Primarily, his unrelent- 
ing hatred of Hamilton ; whom, utterly regardless of 
the public interest in his services, he would have driven 
from the army, by degrading him from the rank to 
which his merit and actual appointment entitled him. 
In the next place, he would have expected from Knox 
a degree of subserviency to his views which was not 
to be expected from Hamilton. Lastly, he had receiv- 
ed from Knox a flattering letter, expressing his unquali- 
fied admiration of the President's measures. And to a 
man of Mr. Adams's unbounded vanity, nothing could 
be so grateful, nothing so influential, as flattery. In 
this letter, Knox suggested a variety of measures, and 
on a liberal scale, which he thought should be taken, 
effectually to resist and defeat an invasion by the French ; 
and he concluded with a tender of his humble abilities 
for any sort of service to which they should be thought 

After such an expression of the humble sense of his 
awn abilities, and of his readiness to serve in any sta- 
tion to which they should be deemed adequate, it must 
surprise every one to find that his humility was offended 

* I have a copy of this letter, taken from the original, which, by Mr. Ad- 
ams's direction, I deposited in the war-office. 


because he was not placed above all other officers, 
Washington only excepted : but such was the fact ; 
and for that reason he refused ta serve at all. In a 
letter to me, General Knox said, " The present view 
" of the subject is, that Mr. Hamilton's talents have 
" been estimated upon a scale of comparison so tran- 
" scendent, that all his seniors in rank and years of the 
"late army have been degraded by his elevation. 
" Whether this estimate has been perfectly correct, or 
" whether the consequences will be for the happiness 
" of the country, time will discover." 

It is the more remarkable that Knox should insist on 
the first rank as a major general, seeing the arrangement 
had been made by General Washington, for whom he 
always manifested the most profound respect ; and the 
General always appeared to me to entertain towards 
Knox a peculiar and very strong attachment. In a 
letter to Hamilton, in reference to the arrangement of 
him and Pinckney, Washington said, " With respect to 
" my friend General Knox, whom I love and esteem, I 
" have ranked him below you both." If there was in 
the revolutionary army but one officer whom he loved, 
Knox was that one. In this case we see exemplified 
the sentiment expressed to me by the General in his 
letter of Sept. 9, before quoted That in every public 
transaction of his life, the public weal, and not private 
gratifications, governed him. No person acquainted 
with Hamilton and Knox could hesitate a moment in 
deciding to whom the preference was due. 

Mr. Adams has been unwearied in his attempts to 
degrade Hamilton in the eyes of his fellow-citizens : 
he has been so indiscreet as to deny him, what all the 
world beside allow him, very eminent talents. Ac- 
cording to Mr. Adams, his son-in-law Col. Smith, in 
the military line, was much superior to Hamilton : 
And having, in many letters published in the Boston 
Patriot in 1809, labouring to vindicate the mission to 
France instituted in 1799, commented on various pas- 
sages of Hamilton's letter of 1800, when Adams was a 
second time a candidate for the presidency, he con- 


dudes his 16th letter with these words : " I have no 
" more to say on this great subject. Indeed I am 
" weary of exposing puerilities that would disgrace the 
" awkwardest boy at college." After this shot, the 
following comparison of Mr. Gerry and Hamilton, as 
financiers, will occasion no surprise. 

In his 13th letter, dated May 29, 1809, published in 
the Boston Patriot, Mr. Adams, speaking of his favour- 
ite, Gerry, as one of the ministers to negotiate with 
the French Republic, against whom he supposes pre- 
judices had been entertained, says, " No man had a 
" greater share in propagating and diffusing these pre- 
" judices against Mr. Gerry than Hamilton ; whether 
" he had formerly conceived jealousies against him as a 
" rival candidate for the Secretaryship of the Treasu- 
" ry : for Mr. Gerry was a financier, and had been 
" employed for years on the treasury in the old Con- 
" gress, and a most indefatigable member too :" " that 
" committee had laid the foundation for the present 
" system of the treasury, and had organized it almost 
" as well :" " I knew that the officers of the treasury, 
" in Hamilton's time, dreaded to see him rise in the 
" House upon any question of finance, because they said 
" he was a man of so much influence, that they always 
" feared he would discover some error, or carry some 
" point against them : or whether he [Hamilton] fear- 
" ed that Mr. Gerry would be President of the United 
" States before him, I know not." ! ! ! 

It appears by Cunningham's letters to Mr. Adams, 
that the latter had written two concerning Hamilton, 
filled with matters of such a character that he would 
not leave them in Cunningham's hands : he insisted on 
their being returned to him, and they were returned : 
but their contents are intimated in Cunningham's an- 
swers. The accusations are of atrocious vices. One, 
that Hamilton was totally destitute of integrity. The 
whole of the world where Hamilton was Known will 
acquit him of this charge, and with scorn repel the foul 
calumny. And every reader of this Review will have 
seen the licentiousness of Mr. Adams's pen, and how 


little credit is due to any of his statements concerning 
those who are the subjects of his envy, hatred or re- 

In Cunningham's letter XXXVII, to Adams, dated 
May 6, 1809, he states, that Mr. Adams informed him, 
that the testimony of General Washington in Hamil- 
ton's favour was given under a threatening of a public 
exposure of his mistakes. " You, sir, know," says 
Cunningham, " what authority I have for the declara- 
" tion General Washington was overawed with a me- 
" nace." In a note Cunningham adds, " Mr. Adams is 
" my authority for all this, and more." Every man 
who knew Washington will pronounce this, whoever 
might be the author, an atrocious falsehood. In the 
conscious purity of intention in all his actions, while 
he entertained a modest opinion of himself, he would 
not have endured such an insult from any human be- 
ing ; and all who knew Hamilton will pronounce him 
utterly incapable of offering it. 

Here I conclude all that I think proper for me to 
say respecting Mr. Hamilton, in regard to Mr. Adams's 
reproaches, in his correspondence with Cunningham. 
His animadversions on Hamilton, in his letters pub- 
lished in the same year (1809) in the Boston Patriot, 
which occupy nearly fifty pages in octavo, so far as 
the same may merit any notice, will have the attention 
of Hamilton's biographer. That the work is not yet 
commenced, or in progress, is a subject of deep regret. 

But as Hamilton has formerly been accused of cher- 
ishing highly aristocratic views of government, and, as 
a member of the General Convention which formed the 
Constitution of the United States, would have infused 
that spirit into it, I subjoin his letter to me on that 
subject. It is an answer to one I wrote to him, stating 
that it had been asserted, " that in the General Con- 
" vention he had proposed, that the President of the 
" United States, and the Senators, should be chosen for 
" life ; and that his accusers alleged that this was in- 
" tended as an introduction to Monarchy." On this ac- 
cusation I made the following remark : " If the propo- 


" sition was offered in the Convention, your friends will 
" know to what motives to ascribe it ; and that, what- 
" ever lorm of government you may have suggested for 
" consideration, the public welfare, and the permanent 
" liberty of your country, were not the less objects of 
" pursuit with you, than with the other members of the 
" Convention." On this subject I requested informa- 

Hamilton's answer is too valuable to be lost. By 
introducing it into this Review, it may be preserved 
long enough to be used by his biographer, while in the 
mean time it will gratify surviving friends who deeply 
respect his memory. I give it here, verbatim, from 
the original now before me. 

" New-York, September 16, 1803. 

" I will make no apology for my delay in answering your in- 
quiry some time since made, because I could offer uone which would 
satisfy myself. I pray you only to believe that it proceeded from any 
thing rather than want of respect or regard. 1 shall now comply 
with your request. 

" The highest toned propositions, which I made in the Convention, 
were for a President, Senate and Judges during good behaviour 
a House of Representatives for three years. Though I would 
have enlarged the legislative power of the General Govern- 
ment, yet I never contemplated the abolition of the State Govern- 
ments : but, on the contrary, they were, in some particulars, consti- 
tuent parts of my plan. 

" This plan was in my conception conformable with the strict 
theory of a government purely republican ; the essential criteria of 
which are, that the principal organs of the executive and legislative 
departments be elected by the people, and hold their offices by a re- 
sponsible and temporary or defeasible tenure. 

ut A vote was taken on the proposition respecting the Executive. 
Five States were in favour of it ; among these Virginia ; and though 
from the manner of voting, by delegations, individuals were not dis- 
tinguished, it was morally certain, from the known situation of the 
Virginia members (six in number, two of them, Mason and Randolph, 
professing popular doctrines) that Madison must hove concurred in 
the vote of Virginia. Thus, if I sinned against republicanism, Mr. 
Madison was not less guilty. 

" I may truly then say, that I never proposed either a President, 
or Senate, for life ; and that I neither recommended nor meditated 
the annihilation of the State Governments. 

" And I may add, that in the course of the discussions in the Con- 
vention, neither the propositions thrown out for debate, nor even 


those voted in the earlier stages of deliberation, were considered a* 
evidences of a definitive opinion in the proposer or voter. It ap- 
peared to me to be in some sort understood, that with a view to free 
investigation, experimental propositions might be made, which were 
to be received merely as suggestions for consideration. 

" Accordingly it is a fact, that my final opinion was against an Ex- 
ecutive during good behaviour, on account of the increased danger 
to the public tranquillity incident to the election of a Magistrate of 
this degree of permanency. In the plan of a Constitution, which I 
drew up while the Convention was sitting, and which I communicated 
to Mr. Madison about the close of it, perhaps a day or two after, the 
office of President has no greater duration than for three years. 

" This plan was predicated upon these bases. I. That the politi- 
cal principles of the people of this country would endure nothing but 
republican governments. 2. That, in the actual situation of the 
country, it was in itself right and proper that the republican theory 
should have a fair and full trial. 3. That to such a trial it was essen- 
tial that the government should be so constructed as to give it all the 
energy and stability rec jncileable with the principles of that theory. 
These were the genuine sentiments of my heart, and upon them 1 

" I sincerely hope, that it may not hereafter be discovered, that 
through want of sufficient attention to the last idea, the experiment 
of Republican Government, even in this country, has not been as 
complete, as satisfactory and as decisive as could be wished. 
" Very truly, dear sir, your friend and servant, 





IN this review of Mr. Adams's Correspondence with 
Cunningham passing by many things of minor con- 
sequence I have noticed nearly all of his principal re- 
proaches ; and shown, I trust satisfactorily, that they 
are calumnies, and calumnies of the most disgraceful 
kind ; that, in his laboured attempts to justify some im- 
portant acts of his administration, he has manifested as 
little regard to truth as to consistency ; and that those 
acts, which he solemnly avers were dictated solely by 
'a sincere and virtuous regard to the public welfare, 


originated in his unrestrained ambition. There remain 
to be noticed two accusations in his letter, No. XVII, 
Nov. 25, 1808, to Cunningham, where, referring to me, 
he says, " No man I ever knew had so deep a contempt 
" for Washington. I have had numerous proofs of it 
" from his own lips ; yet he appears to the world a de- 
" vout adorer of him." This charge, in every part, I 
deny. From Mr. Adams's character, as portrayed in 
this Review, every impartial reader will see that his 
accusations can derive no credit from his assertions ; 
that he is capable of making the grossest misrepresen- 
tations ; and from detached facts, and often from bare 
suspicions, of drawing unwarrantable inferences, if 
suited to his purposes at the moment. Some such 
facts, relating to Washington, he may have heard me 
mention, though I have no recollection of it ; for those, 
to which I here refer, were such as entered into occa- 
sional conversations between myself and my friends. 
But whatever they were, the inference of " contempt" 
is all his own ; and perfectly natural, because corres- 
ponding with own feelings ; as in the instance of which 
his friend Cunningham reminds him, in his letter No. 
LX, January 15,1810, saying, "In the letter, from 
" which I have extracted, you observed, that the por- 
" trait of Washington ought not to shove aside the 
" portraits of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, in Fa- 
" nueil Hall. Now, to say nothing of Samuel Adams, 
" what was John Hancock ? I will tell you what you 
" yourself once said of him. In the afternoon of a day 
" in the summer of 1791, some conversation respecting 
" him led Mrs. Adams to remark, that he was born 
" near your residence you turned yourself towards 
" your front door, and pointing to a spot in view, you 
" laughingly exclaimed, 4 Yes ! there's the place where 
" the great Governor Hancock was born.' Then, com- 
" posing your countenance, and rolling your eye, you 
" went on with these exclamations ; John Hancock ! 
" a man without head and without heart the mere 
" shadow of a man, and yet a Governor of old Massa- 
" chusetts !" In his answer to this letter, the next day, 


without questioning the truth of Cunningham's state- 
ment, Mr. Adams says, " The correspondence and con- 
" versations which have passed between us have been 
" under the confidential seal of secrecy and friendship. 
" Any violation of it will be a breach of honour and of 
" plighted faith." Other like instances of Mr. Adams's 
expressed opinion of Washington have come to my 
knowledge. Yet in official acts, speeches, messages 
and letters, he was willing to derive to himself some 
credit as his eulogist. 

The " facts" to which I have alluded were military 
occurrences in the revolutionary war, which fell under 
my own observation, and which produced an opinion, 
on some points of his character, in coincidence with 
what Iknoiv, from their own observations to me, were 
the opinions of General Greene and Baron Steuben ; 
with what I have indubitable reason to know was the 
opinion of Hamilton ; and also of Colonel Reed, adju- 
tant general in 1776, and afterwards President of Penn- 
sylvania. To some of these facts and opinions I have 
occasionally adverted, when I have heard every mili- 
tary enterprise of moment, during the revolutionary 
war, ascribed exclusively to Washington ; and when 
the salvation of our country and the establishment of 
its independence have been attributed to him alone. 
In these unlimited views concerning Washington I 
have not concurred. I never believed that the effec- 
tual defence of our country, and the final achievement 
of its independence, rested on any one man. Had this 
been the case, resistance to the mother country would 
have been madness. Yet I have always thought, and said, 
that, as the chief command of our armies should be 
entrusted only to a native citizen, Washington, above 
all others, was entitled to the preference. 

There had been no military school in the Colonies, 
where natives might learn the art of war ; nor any oc- 
casion or opportunity for colonists to acquire a practi- 
cal knowledge of it, excepting in the French or Seven 
Years' war, which was declared in 1756, and ended in 
1763. In that war, numerous Provincial forces wero 


employed in conjunction with British regular troops: 
but only for single campaigns, and as militia, engaged 
to serve from spring to autumn. And all these tran- 
sient services ended with the conquest of Canada, in 
1759 and 60, which gave peace to our frontiers. The 
frontiers of Virginia, harassed by Indian incursions from 
1754, when Washington commanded the levies of that 
province, were quieted in 1758 ; in which year, British 
troops and Colonial militia drove the French from the 
Ohio. And, at the close of that year, Washington re- 
signed his commission. By his services in that war, 
he had acquired much military reputation; and his 
whole life, marked with eminent qualities, left him with- 
out a competitor for the chief command, at the com- 
mencement of our revolutionary war. Through the 
whole course of it, he served with &pure and disinterest- 
ed zeal, fortitude and magnanimity, that were never sur- 
passed in any cause ; and amidst difficulties and dis- 
couragements that perhaps were never equalled. Such 
a character no one could view with " contempt." In 
what, then, have I differed from any others, in regard 
to Washington ? I frankly answer that I did not as- 
cribe to him transcendent talents as well as transcend- 
ent virtues. These, combined, would constitute a cha- 
racter that has rarely if ever existed. Washington, far 
from assuming, uniformly disclaimed it; both when he 
accepted the Command of the Army in 1775, and when 
he received the Presidency of the United States in 1789. 
In these two great acts, deliberately contemplated, and 
performed with the deepest anxiety, it was manifested, 
that the highest public employments not being with 
him objects of ambition, he relinquished the pursuits 
and endearments of private life, purely in obedience to 
the voice of his country, to whose service all his facul- 
ties were ever devoted. With such feelings, and a 
painful apprehension of the great responsibility attach- 
ed to those offices, to accept of them raised still higher 
his character of exalted patriotism. He consented to 
hazard his reputation, at momentous crises, when his 
numerous judicious friends, on whose fidelity and cor- 


opinions he had just reason to rely, assured him 
that the public voice, as well as the public welfare, de- 
manded the sacrifice of all private considerations. . 

My general views of Washington's character coin- 
cide with those of some who had frequent and intimate 
opportunities of knowing it, and of some of our most 
judicious public writers. Among all the cotemporaries 
of Washington, no man had more or better (I may say 
no one had equal) opportunities of knowing Washing- 
ton, than Alexander Hamilton ; and I presume it will 
be admitted, that no man was more competent to form 
a correct judgment of his character. For more than 
four years, Hamilton was an important member of 
General Washington's military family, in the revolu- 
tionary war ; and six years Secretary of the Treasury, 
when Washington was President of the United States ; 
and his constant correspondent during the rest of his 
life. Hamilton was too just to detract, and too sincere 
to flatter. In his well known letter on the public con- 
duct and character of John Adams, he mentions " the 
" incomparably superior weight and transcendent po- 
" pularity of General Washington" " the venerated 
" Washington" " the modest and sage Washington" - 
" the virtuous and circumspect Washington" " the 
" dead patriot and hero, the admired and beloved Wash- 
" ington." In the same letter, contrasting the precipi- 
tation of President Adams with the deliberate judgment 
of Washington, he says of the latter, " He consulted 
" much, pondered much, resolved slowly, resolved sure- 
" ly." And in his letter, consequent on his resignation 
of the treasury department, in answer to a " very kind" 
one from Washington, Hamilton says, " I entreat you 
" to be persuaded .(not the less for my having been 
" sparing of professions) that I shall never cease to ren- 
" der a just tribute to those eminent and excellent qua- 
" lities which have been already productive of so many 
" blessings to your country."* 

I will close my observations respecting Washington 
with the opinion of that well informed and judicious 

* Marshall's Life of Wash lag-ton, vol. v, appendix, p. 28, 



historian, the late Dr. David Ramsay. In his history 
of the American Revolution, he writes thus of Wash- 
ington : " Possessed of a large proportion of common 
" sense directed by a sound judgment, he was better 
" fitted for the exalted station to which he was called, 
" than many others Avho to greater brilliancy of parts 
" frequently add the eccentricity of original genius." 
" His soul, superiour to party spirit, to prejudice and 
"illiberal views, moved according to the impulses it 
" received from an honest heart, a good understanding, 
" common sense, and a sound judgment."* 

To the correctness of these views of Washington's 
character, by Hamilton and Ramsay, I give my cordial 
assent ; while I deny the other part of Mr. Adams's as- 
sertion, that " I appeared to the world a devout adorer 
" of him." In truth, I never adored any man ; I never 
flattered any man ; and I never attempted to appear 
what I was not ; choosing rather to hazard giving of- 
fence, than to practise any sort of prevarication. 

In the same letter, No. XVII, and immediately fol- 
lowing the preceding charge, Mr. Adams says of me, 
" No man was a more animated advocate for the French ; 
" yet now he is as zealous for the English." As to the 
former, at the commencement of their revolution, my 
sentiments corresponded with those of my fellow-citi- 
zens generally ; rejoicing in the prospect of their es- 
tablishing a free government, in the place of an unlim- 
ited monarchy. To this sentiment there were very 
few exceptions in the United States. But, in the pro- 
gress of the revolution, the unexampled atrocities com- 
mitted at Paris and in other parts of France excited 
my abhorrence. When at length order was restored, 
and a republican government was formed, with " checks 
and balances" which authorized a hope of its perma- 
nent establishment, I again rejoiced. But when this 
new government swerved from republican principles ; 
when its acts were a continued and extensive exhibi- 
tion of tyranny, injustice and corruption ; and espe- 
cially when these evil dispositions were manifested in 

* Vol. i, p. 217. 


unexampled injuries and insults towards the United 
States and their government, the French Rulers, and 
those who executed their commands, were to me ob- 
jects of horror and detestation. The honour, under 
these circumstances, of having continued to cherish 
French attachments, I cheerfully leave to those who 
were ambitious, of it, and to their new adherents. 

With regard to the English, my opposition to their 
claims, during our controversies with their govern- 
ment, and in the war which succeeded, was constant 
and uniform. When our independence was established, 
and peace proclaimed, my enmity ceased. To indulge 
the sentiment in the declaration of independence, " to 
" hold them, as we should hold the rest of mankind, En- 
" emies in War in Peace, Friends" accorded as well 
with my inclination as my duty. Without such a tem- 
per among the people of any country, and especially 
in its rulers, permanent peace cannot be expected. 
Mr. Adams, in his public letters, takes credit to him- 
self as a friend to peace ; and, with some ostentation, 
repeats, as if it were a maxim peculiar to himself, or 
at least not common, that he always held a state of 
neutrality to be the true policy and the great interest 
of the United States ; yet in various places he utters 
sentiments tending to engender hostilities with Eng- 
land. Such, no doubt, appeared to him to be the pre- 
valent feeling of his old opponents, the adherents of 
Mr. Jefferson, with whom he and his son had coalesced. 
In his letter No. XXVI, February 11, 1809, to Cunning- 
ham, he pronounces " Great-Britain to be the natural 
" enemy of the United States." Yet our commercial 
intercourse with that country is of greater interest to 
the United States than that with any other country on 
the globe. It was that intercourse which rapidly en- 
riched our southern and western states, the growers of 
cotton ; and it will continue to add to their wealth and 
comforts, if not interrupted or embarrassed by our own 
impolitic restraints. But its benefits are not confined 
to the cotton-growing states ; they extend to every 
state in the Union. A new reason now urges the Unj- 


ted States to maintain a friendly connexion with Great- 
Britain : Hers is the only free and independent coun- 
try in Europe ; and Ours the only other country in the 
World in a condition to co-operate with Britain in sus- 
taining the cause of liberty on the Earth. 

If for entertaining such sentiments as these I shall 
be visited with reproaches, let them come I am willing, 
to bear them. 


MANY have exclaimed with horror at the breach of 
faith which has brought to light the CORRESPONDENCE 
between Mr. Adams and his friend Cunningham ; and 
they concentrate their reproaches on the head of the 
son who has given it to the public. But what is the 
real cause of all this horror ? Suppose another per- 
son had communicated to Cunningham, ingenious dis- 
sertations in philosophy, in morals, or in religion, or 
the animated effusions of a heart warmed with benevo- 
lence, but which the modest and retiring author would 
venture to impart only to a bosom friend, and espe- 
cially not to be made public during the writer's life ; 
and suppose this friend struck with the beauties and 
excellencies of the compositions, and convinced of their 
utility, if made known ; would the disclosure of them, 
by the anticipation of a few years, be thought an un- 
pardonable crime ? On the contrary, would it not be 
deemed a very venial fault ? Who would have regret- 
ted the opportunity, thus afforded, to bestow on the 
modest author present instead of posthumous praise, 
which all would pronounce his due, and which even 
he, now entirely satisfied of the merit of his work, 
could himself enjoy ? 

But what is the character of the " CORRESPONDENCE?" 
An exhibition of the worst passions of the human heart 


To the horror-struck censors of the publisher I would 
say, You think only of the once high standing of Mr. 
Adams ; you see him venerable in years ; you read his 
name associated with some of the most interesting pe- 
riods of our history, and at length honoured with the 
highest office our national institutions will admit. All 
these recollections rush upon the mind, and you are 
unwilling to loosen the hold they have on your heart. 
If it were possible, you would shut your eyes against 
the atrocious calumnies flowing through his pen, and 
so deeply derogating from the character you have been 
accustomed to contemplate with delight, and to which 
you have rendered the grateful homage of your hearts. 
You are shocked with this new view of his character ; 
but, at the same time, mortified and vexed at the dis- 
covery, you pass by the real offender, and pour all your 
resentment, and expressions of accumulated horror, on 
the head of the person who has published, a little pre- 
maturely, the monstrous calumnies which the veriera- 
rable author had himself prepared for the press. It 
will be seen, by the note hereto subjoined, that these 
letters were in truth intended as the posthumous work 
of President Adams ; and the publisher has done no 
more than to anticipate, by perhaps a year or two, its 
publication ; thereby giving me, what the writer intend- 
ed to prevent, the opportunity of defending myself dur- 
ing the joint lives of us both.* 

I have now brought to a close my Review of the 
CORRESPONDENCE between Mr. Adams and his relative 
and friend William Cunningham. In my own defence 
I have been constrained to examine freely his commu- 
nications. If faults of a deep die appear, let it be con- 
sidered, that I only write their history ; and, upon the 

* Mr. Adams commenced his reproaches against me in his letter of Oct. 15, 
1808, but enjoined secrecy, in these words : " What I have said is to remain 
" in your own breast. I have no disposition to enter into newspaper contro- 
" versies with Pickering-, or his friends or editors." In his next letter, Nov. 
7, he qualifies his injunction : " I shall insist that whatever 1 write to you up- 
" on the subject shall be confidential as long as I live." Mr. Adams then 
proceeds to give full scope to his malevolence, and continues to vent his ca- 
lumnies until the 7th of June, 1809 a period of seven months; certainly with 
the expectation and design, that after his death they should be made public*-* 
to illustrate his own character and to doom mine to perpetual infamy- 


strictest scrutiny of what I have written, I have dis- 
cerned no errors. Should any be discovered, I shall 
readily acknowledge and retract them. Some persons 
may regret this exhibition of the character of Mr. Ad- 
ams. Such kind hearts should rather wish that he had 
not himself created the occasion, and rendered it an 
imperious duty to myself and children, to my friends 
and to truth, to vindicate my reputation so wantonly 
assailed. In performing this just act of self defence, 
it was impossible to avoid the exhibition I have made 
of the character of the accuser. If I thus expose his 
faults to the world, I at the same time expose them to 
himself; in which view, it may be a work of real use- 
fulness. It may excite just reflections : he may become 
sensible that he has too long given the reins to his un- 
hallowed passions. With such a temper, and so in- 
dulged, will he, on this exposure, have no compunctious 
feelings ? Whatever censure may rest on the publisher 
of the Correspondence, a heavier censure must fall on 
him who furnished the matter for the publication. It 
is, as I have remarked, this matter, black with every 
evil passion, which has excited horror. It is the author, 
rioting on the characters of the men whom he sacri- 
ficed to those passions, that ought to be the real source 
of horror. Should he be shocked, by this exhibition 
of his own work, it may produce humility and con- 
trition Christian virtues, and the indispensable condi- 
tions of forgiveness at that Tribunal where the specious 
but empty pardon of any fellow mortal will be of no 
avail. For myself, wronged as I have been by Mr. 
Adams, I ask nothing at his hands. I am now alike 
indifferent to his praise and his reproach. To me, he 
is an object not of resentment, but of pity. 


Extracts from the pamphlet called u The Prospect Before Us" exhibit- 
ing some of the calumnies against Presidents Washington and Adams, 
by James Thompson Callender ; referred to in page 13. 

" I NOW return to the tremor of 1787, by which the 4 government 
of your own choice^ the federal constitution, was crammed down the 
gullet of America."* 

" By his own account, therefore, Mr. Washington has been twice 
a traitor. He first renounced the king of England, and thereafter 
the old confederation." 

" The extravagant popularity possessed by this citizen t reflects 
the utmost ridicule on the discernment of America. He approved 
of the funding system, the assumption, the national bank ; and, in 
contradiction to his own solemn promise, he authorized the robbery 
and ruin of the remnants of his own army." 

" Under the old confederation, matters never were, nor could have 
been, conducted so wretchedly as they actually are and have been 
under the successive monarchs of Braintree and Mount Vernon."J 

" Mr. Washington was president of this federal convention : of 
course he could not plead ignorance of its intention against the erec- 
tion of a national bank. He swore to support the constitution. Di- 
rectly after, he ratified the bank law, which drove the ploughshare 
of paper jobbing through the very midst of his double oath, as a fed- 
eral citizen, and as president." 

" For all this confusion and iniquity, we must thank Mr. Washing- 

"If Mr. \Vashingtonwanted to corrupt the American judges, he 
could not have taken a more decisive step, than by the appointment 
of Mr. Jay." 

" The proclamation of neutrality does not, therefore, deserve that 
title. It was a proclamation of ignorance and pusillanimity." 

" Adams and Washington have since been shaping a series of these 
paper-jobbers into judges and ambassadors. As their whole courage 
lies in want of shame, these poltroons, without risking a manly and 
intelligible defence of their own measures, raise an affected yelp 
against the corruption of the French directory ; as if any corruption 
could be more venal, more notorious, more execrated, than their own. 

* If the reader will turn back to pages 33 and 34, he will see Mr. Jefferson's 
reproachful censures of the constitution, and of the eminent patriots who 
formed it. 

f Washington. 

\ Meaning- Adatns and Washing-ton. The township of Quincy, the plar<- 
of Mr. Adams's residence, was formerly a part of the township of Braintree. 


For years together, the United States resounded with curses against 
them, while the grand lama of federal adoration, the immaculate di- 
vinity of Mount Vernon, approved of and subscribed every one of 
their blackest measures." 

" This speech has a charm that completely unmasks the scanda- 
lous hypocrisy of Washington." 

u Mr. Adams has only completed the scene of ignominy which Mr. 
Washington began." 

" Foremost in whatever is detestable, Mr. Adams feels anxiety to 
curb the frontier population." 

" This last presidential felony will be buried by Congress in the 
same criminal silence as its predecessors." 

" In the two first years of his presidency, he has contrived pre- 
tences to double the annual expense of government, by useless fleets, 
armies, sinecures, and jobs of every possible description." 

" By sending these ambassadors to Paris, Mr Adams and his Brit- 
ish faction designed to do nothing but mischief." 

u It is happy for Mr. Adams himself, as well as for his country, 
that he asserted an untruth." 

" In the midst of such a scene of profligacy and of usury, the Presi- 
dent has persisted, as long as he durst, in making his utmost efforts 
for provoking a French war." 

" When a chief magistrate is, both in his speeches and in his news- 
papers, constantly reviling France, he can neither expect nor desire 
to live long in peace with her. Take your choice, then, between 
Adams, war and beggary, and Jefferson, peace and competency." 

Such are some of the calumnies (the " Prospect before Us" con- 
tains many more) written and published by James Thompson Callen- 
der, in 1800, when the election of a president was pending, Adams 
and Jefferson being the rival candidates ; and such the character of 
the " book Callender was about to publish," which Mr. Jefferson said, 
would " inform the thinking part of the nation," and enable these 
" to set the people to rights." 

Letter from Mr. Jefferson to Lieutenant Governor Barry of Kentucky, 
on the Judiciary. Page 16. 

" iYJoNTicELLO, JULY 2, 1822. 

" SIR Your favour of the 15th June is received, and I am very 
thankful for the kindness of its expressions respecting myself; but it 
ascribes to me merits which I do not claim. 1 was one only of a band 
devoted to the cause of independence, all of whom exerted equally 
their best endeavours for its' success, and have a common right to 
the merits of its acquisition. So also in the civil revolution of 1801, 
very many and very meritorious were the worthy patriots who assist- 
ed in bringing back our government to its republican track. To pre- 
serve it in that, will require unremitting vigilance. Whether the sur- 
render of our opponents, their reception into our camp, their as- 


Sumption of our name, and apparent accession to our objects, may 
strengthen or weaken the genuine principles of republicanism, may be 
a good or an evil, is yet to be seen. I consider the party division of 
whig and tory the most wholesome which can exist in any govern^ 
ment, and well worthy of being nourished., to keep out those of a 
more dangerous character. We already see the power, installed for 
life, responsible to no authority (for impeachment is not even a 
scare-crow) advancing with a noiseless and steady pace to the great 
object of consolidation ; the foundations are deeply laid, by their de- 
cisions, for the annihilation of constitutional state rights, and the re- 
moval of every check, every counterpoise, to the ^ingulfing power 
of which themselves are to make a sovereign part. If ever this vast 
country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the 
most extensive corruption, indifferent to, and incapable of a whole- 
some care over so wide a spread of surface. This will not be borne, 
and you will have to choose between reformation and revolution. If 
I know the spirit of this country, the one or the other is inevitable. 
Before the canker is become inveterate, before its venom has reach- 
ed so much of the body politic as to get beyond controul, remedy 
should be applied. Let the future appointments of judges be for four 
or six years, and renewable by the President and Senate. This will 
bring their conduct, at regular periods, under revision and probation, 
and may keep them in equipoise between the general and special 
governments. We have erred in this point by copying England, 
where certainly it is a good thing to have the judges independent of 
the king ; but we have omitted to copy their caution also, which 
makes a judge removable on the address of both legislative houses. 
That there should be public functionaries independent of the nation, 
whatever may be their merit, is a solecism in a republic, of the first 
order of absurdity and inconsistence. TH. JEFFERSON." 


It is forty years since Mr. Jefferson wrote his " Notes on Virginia." 
In that small volume, (I believe his only work, unless his manual of 
parliamentary usages be viewed as another) besides answering vari- 
ous questions of a foreigner of distinction, about facts concerning that 
State, and which Mr. Jefferson's local knowledge and public employ- 
ments in the district of country which gave him birth, enabled him 
to answer, he exhibited other facts, to detect the gross errors of 
some European philosophers, who, for want of due inquiry, had stat- 
ed, that the various races of animals, and man himself, in the New 
World, compared with those of the Old World, were greatly inferior 
in size ; and man also in intellect ; or, to use Mr. Jefferson's own 
word, were " belittled." To overthrow this unfounded opinion, and 
triumphantly, was surely not a difficult task. The various tribes of 
untutored Indians, with whom the English colonists had frequent in- 
tercourse, had given decisive proof? of eminent intellectual powers'. 


and of a natural eloquence which astonished their hearers. Gover- 
nor Golden, of New-York, in his history of the Iroquois, or Five Na- 
tions, published in London in 1747, gave many specimens of the 
abilities and eloquence of their chiefs. Mr. Jefferson, in his " Notes," 
furnished the like evidence in the speech of Logan. The late Gol. 
John Gibson, who served in the war of our revolution, and whose 
last office, if I mistake not, was that of Secretary of the Territory 
(now State) of Indiana, informed me, that he was the interpreter of 
Logan's eloquent speech, above mentioned. 

After the decease of Mr. Rittenhouse, President of the American 
Philosophical Society, established at Philadelphia, Mr. Jefferson was 
elected to that office. But no communications, literary or philoso- 
phical, from him, appear among their subsequent transactions. 


Extracts from a letter, dated August 2, 1 822. from T. Pickering t'j 
John Adams, formerly President of the United States. 

" As no act of the Congress of the Thirteen United American Co- 
lonies was so distinguished as that by which their independence of 
Great-Britain was declared, the most particular history of that trans- 
action will probably be sought for, not merely as an interesting curi- 
osity, but to do substantial justice to the abilities and energy of the 
leaders in that great measure." 

" By the public journals, it appears, that on the 7th of June 1776 
1 certain resolutions respecting independency were moved and se- 
conded' ; and that on the 10th, the first resolution, l that the United 
Colonies are and of right ought to be free and Independent States, 1 
was adopted ; and the next day the committee for preparing the de- 
claration to that effect was chosen, consisting of l Mr. Jefferson, Mr. 
J. Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Sherman and Mr. R. K. Livingston.' 
Mr.- Jefferson, being first on the list, became the chairman." 

u It was in the natural order of proceeding for the committee to 
meet and discuss the subject ; and, after mature deliberation, to de- 
cide on the principles or propositions which should constitute the 
basis of the declaration ; and to refer the making of the draught to 
the chairman, or to a sub-committee." 

" Some years ago, a copy of the declaration, as reported to Con- 
gress, was put into my hands, by some one of the Lee family. It 
was in Mr Jefferson's hand-writing, and enclosed in a short letter 
from him to R. H. Lee, together with a copy of the declaration as 
amended in Congress. The amendments consisted chiefly in striking 

out ; and about one fourth part of the whole was struck out." 

" To me, the alterations made in Congress seemed important and 
substantial amendments." " After all, the declaration does not con- 
tain many new ideas. It is rather a compilation of facts and senti- 


inents stated and expressed, during the preceding eleven years, by 
those who wrote and vindicated the rights of the Colonies, including the 
proceedings of the Congress of 1774 ; that is, from the year of the 
stamp act to the commencement of the war. The great merit of any 
compilation consists in the lucid and forcible arrangement of the mat- 
ter. The reported declaration was evidently enfeebled by its redun- 
dancies."- u 1 have thought it desirable that the facts in this case 
should be ascertained. You alone can give a full statement of them, 
to be communicated to whom you think proper. To arrive at truth, 
and to assure to every one his just portion of applause, are the sole 
objects of these remarks." 

On the 6th of August Mr. Adams favoured me with an answer ; and 
was pleased to communicate to me his short history of the Declara- 
tion of Independence, as it appears in the following extract from his 
letter of that date. 

" Mr. Jefferson came into Congress in June 1775, and brought 
with him a reputation for literature, science, and a happy talent 
at composition. Writings of his were handed about, remarkable for 
the peculiar felicity of expression. Though a silent member in 
Congress, he was so prompt, frank, explicit and decisive upon commit- 
tees, not even Samuel Adams was more so, that he soon seized upon 
my heart ; and upon this occasion I gave him my vote, and did all in 
my power to procure the votes of others. I think he had one more 
vote than any other, and that placed him at the head of the commit- 
tee. I had the next highest number, and that placed me the second. 
The committee met, discussed the subject, and then appointed Mr. 
Jefferson and me to make the draught ; I suppose, because we were 
the two highest on the list. The sub-committee met. Jefferson 
proposed to me to make the draught. I said, I will not, you shall 
do it." [Then follows an amicable altercation on this point ; but 
Mr. Adams persisting in his refusal to make the draught,] " Well," 
said Jefferson, u if you are decided, I will do as well as I can." 
Very well ; when you have drawn it up we will have a meeting. 
A meeting we accordingly had, and conned the paper over. I was 
delighted with its high tone, and the flights of oratory with which it 
abounded, especially that concerning Negro Slavery, which, though 
I knew his Southern Brethren would never suffer to pass in 
Congress, I certainly never would oppose. There were other ex- 
pressions which I would not have inserted if I had drawn it up ; par- 
ticularly that which called the King a Tyrant. I thought this too 
personal; for I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition 
and in nature : I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers 
on both sides the Atlantic, and in his official capacity only cruel." 

u I thought the expression too passionate and too much like scold- 
ing for so grave and solemn a document; but as Franklin and Sher- 
man were to inspect it afterwards, I thought it would not become me 
to strike it out. I consented to report it ; and do not now remember 
that I made or suggested a single alteration. We reported it to the 
Committee of Five. It was read; and I do not remember that 


Franklin or Sherman criticised any thing. We were all in haste; 
Congress was impatient ; and the instrument was reported, as I be- 
lieve, in Jefferson's hand-writing, as he first drew it. Congress cut 
off about a quarter part of it, as I expected they would ; hut they 
obliterated some of the best of it, and left all that was exceptionable, 
if any thing in it was. I have long wondered that the original 
draught has not been published. I suppose the reason is, the vehe- 
ment Philippic against Negro Slavery. As you justly observe, there 
is not an idea in it hut what had heen hackneyed in Congress for 
two years before. The substance of it is contained in the declara- 
tion of rights and the violation of those rights, in the Journals of 
Congress in 1774. Indeed the essence of it is contained in a pam- 
phlet voted and printed by the town of Boston before the first Con- 
gress met; composed by James Otis, as I suppose, in one of his lucid 
intervals, and pruned and polished by Samuel Adams." 


Mr. Jefferson's Draught of the Declaration of Independence. This is 
placed in the left-hand column ; and the Declaration, as amended and 
adopted by Congress, in the right-hand column^ of each page, for the 
convenience of comparing them. 

Mr. Jefferson's Draught, as reported by the 
Committee to Congress. 

A Declaration by the Represen- 
tatives of the UNITED STATES or 
AMERICA in General Congress 

When in the course of human 
events it becomes necessary for 
one people to dissolve the politi- 
cal hands which have connected 
them with another, and to assume 
among the powers of the earth 
the separate and equal station to 
which the laws of nature and of 
nature's god entitle them, a de- 
cent respect to the opinions of 
mankind requires that they should 
declare the causes which impel 
them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self 
evident ; that all men are cre- 
ated equal ; that they are endow- 
ed by their Creator with inhe- 
rent and inalienable rights ; that 
among these are life, liberty and 

The Declaration, as amended and adopted 
by Congress. 

A DECLARATION by the Represen- 
tatives of the UNITED STATES OF 
AMERICA, in Congress assem- 

This paragraph of the draught 
remained unaltered. 

We hold these truths to be self- 
evident ; that all men are cre- 
ated equal; that they are endow- 
ed, by their Creator, with certain 
unalienable rights ; that among 
these are life, liberty, and the 


Mr. Jefferson's Draught. 

the pursuit of happiness ; that to 
secure these rights, governments 
are instituted among men, deriv- 
ing their just powers from the 
consent of the governed ; that 
whenever any form of govern- 
ment becomes destructive of these 
ends, it is the right of the people 
to alter or to abolish it, and to in- 
stitute new government, laying 
it's foundation on such principles, 
and organizing it's powers in such 
form as to them shall seem most 
likely to effect their safety and 
happiness, prudence indeed will 
dictate that governments long es- 
tablished should not be changed 
for light and transient causes, 
and accordingly all experience 
hath shewn that mankind are more 
disposed to suffer, while evils are 
sufferable, than to right them- 
selves by abolishing the forms to 
which they are accustomed, but 
when a long train of abuses and 
usurpations, begun at a dis- 
tinguished period, and pursuing 
invariably the same object, evin- 
ces a design to reduce them un- 
der absolute despotism, it is their 
right, it is their duty, to throw 
off such government, and to pro- 
vide new guards for their future 
security, such has been the pa- 
tient sufferance of these colonies ; 
and such is now the necessity 
which constrains them to expunge 
their former systems of govern- 
ment, the history of the present 
king of Great Britain, is a history 
of unremitting injuries and usur- 
pations, among which appears no 
solitary fact to contradict the uni- 
form tenor of the rest ; but all 
have in direct object the esta- 
blishment of an absolute tyranny 
over these states, to prove this 
let facts be submitted to a candid 
world, for the truth of which we 

Declaration as adopted. 

pursuit of happiness. That, to 
secure these rights, governments 
are instituted among men, deriv- 
ing their just powers from the 
consent of the governed ; that, 
whenever any form of govern- 
ment becomes destructive of these 
ends, it is the right of the people 
to alter or to abolish it, and to in- 
stitute new government, laying 
its foundation on such principles, 
and organizing its powers in such 
form, as to them shall seem most 
likely to effect their safety and 
happiness. Prudence, indeed, 
will dictate, that governments 
long established should not be 
changed for light and transient 
causes ; and, accordingly, all ex- 
perience hath shewn, that man- 
kind are more disposed to suffer, 
while evils are sufferable, than 
to right themselves by abolishing 
the forms to which they are ac- 
customed. But, when a long 
train of abuses and usurpations, 
pursuing invariably the same ob- 
ject, evinces a design to reduce 
them under absolute despotism, 
it is their right, it is their duty, 
to throw off such government, 
and to provide new guards for 
their future security. Such has 
been the patient sufferance of 
tljese colonies ; and such is now 
the necessity which constrains 
them to alter their former sys- 
tems of government. The his- 
tory of the present king of Great 
Britain is a history of repeated 
injuries arid usurpations, all hav- 
ing, in direct object, the esta- 
blishment of an absolute tyranny 
over these states. To prove this, 
let facts be submitted to a candid 


Mr. Jefferson's Draught. 

pledge a faith yet unsullied by 


He has refused his assent to laws 
the most wholesome and ne- 
cessary for the public good. 

he has forbidden his governors to 
pass laws of immediate and 
pressing importance, unless sus- 
pended in their operation till 
his assent should be obtained ; 
and when so suspended, he has 
neglected utterly to attend to 

he has refused to pass other laws 
for the accommodation of large 
districts of people, unless those 
people would relinquish the 
right of representation in the 
legislature ; a right inestima- 
ble to them, and formidable to 
tyrants only. 

he has called together legislative 
bodies at places unusual, un- 
comfortable, and distant from 
the depository of their public 
records, for the sole purpose 
of fatiguing them into compli- 
ance with his measures. 

he has dissolved Representative 
houses repeatedly and continu- 
ally, for opposing with manly 
firmness his invasions on the 
rights of the people. 

he has refused for a long time af- 
ter such dissolutions to cause 
others to be elected, whereby 
the legislative powers, incapa- 
ble of annihilation, have re- 
turned to the people at large 
for their exercise, the state re- 
maining in the mean time ex- 
posed to all the dangers of in- 
vasion from without and con- 
vulsions within. 

he has endeavoured to prevent 
the population of these states ; 
for that purpose obstructing the 
laws for naturalization of for- 
eigners ; refusing to pass oth- 

Ddclaration as adopted. 

J\~ot altered. 

He has forbidden his governors 
to pass laws of immediate and 
pressing importance, unless sus- 
pended in their operation till his 
assent should be obtained ; and, 
when so suspended, he has utter- 
ly neglected to attend to them. 

Not altered. 

Not altered. 

He has dissolved representa- 
tive houses repeatedly, for oppos- 
ing with manly firmness his inva- 
sions on the rights of the people. 

Not altered. 

Not attend. 


Mr. Jefferson's Draught. 

ers to encourage their migra- 
tion hither; and raising the 
conditions of new appropria- 
tions of lands. 

he has suffered the administra- 
tion of justice totally to cease 
in some of these states, refus- 
ing his assent to laws for esta- 
blishing judiciary powers. 

he has made our judges depen- 
dent on his will alone, for the 
tenure of their offices and the 
amount and paiment of their 

he has erected a multitude of new 
offices by a self-assumed pow- 
er, and sent hither swarms of 
officers to harrass our people, 
and to eat out their substance. 

he has kept among us, in times 
of peace, standing armies and 
ships of war, without the con- 
sent of our legislatures. 

he has affected to render the mil- 
itary independent of, and supe- 
rior to the civil power. 

he has combined with others to 
subject us to a jurisdiction for- 
eign to our constitutions and 
tmacknoleged by our laws ; 
giving his assent to their acts 
of pretended legislation 

for quartering large bodies of 
armed troops among us ; 

for protecting them by a mock 
trial from punishment for any 
murders which they should 
commit on the inhabitants of j> 
these states ; 

for cutting off our trade with all 
parts of the world ; 

for imposing taxes on us without 
our consent ; 

for depriving us of the benefits of 
trial by jury ; 

for transporting us beyond seas 
to be tried for pretended of- 
fences ; 

for abolishing the free system of 

Declaration as adopted 

He has obstructed the admin- 
istration of justice, by refusing his 
assent to laws for establishing ju- 
diciary powers. 

He has made judges dependent 
on his will alone, for the tenure 
of their offices, and the amount 
and payment of their salaries. 

He has erected a multitude of 
new offices, and sent hither 
swarms of officers to harass our 
people, and eat out their sub- 

He has kept among us, in times 
of peace, standing armies, with- 
out the consent of our legisla- 

Not altered. 

He has combined with others, 
to subject us to a jurisdiction for- 
eign to our constitution, and un- 
acknowledged by our laws ; giv- 
ing his assent to their acts of pre- 
tended legislation, 

Not altered. 

for depriving us, in many cases, 
of the benefits of trial by jury ; 

Not altered. 
for abolishing the free system 


Mr, Jefferson's Draught. 

English laws in a neighbouring 
province, establishing therein 
an arbitrary government, and 
enlarging it's boundaries so as 
to render it at once an example 
and fit instrument for introdu- 
cing the same absolute rule into 
these states ; 

for taking away our charters, 
abolishing our most valuable 
laws, and altering fundamen- 
tally the forms of our govern- 
ments ; 

for suspending our own legisla- 
tures, and declaring themselves 
invested with power to legis- 
late for us in all cases whatso- 
ever ; 

he has abdicated government 
here, withdrawing his gover- 
nors, and declaring us out of 
his allegiance and protection. 

he has plundered our seas, ravag- 
ed our coasts, burnt our towns, 
and destroyed the lives of our 
people. he is at this time 
transporting large armies of 
foreign mercenaries, to com- 
pleat the works of death, de- 
solation and tyranny, already 
begun with circumstances of 
cruelty and perfidy unworthy 
the head of a civilized nation. 

he has endeavoured to bring on 
the inhabitants of our frontiers 
the merciless Indian savages, 
whose known rule of warfare 
is an undistinguished destruc- 
tion of all ages, sexes, and con- 
ditions of existence. 

he has incited treasonable insur- 
rections of our fellow citizens, 
with the allurements of for- 
feiture and confiscation of our 

he has constrained others, taken 
captives on the high seas, to 
bear arms against their coun- 
try, to become the execution- 

Deelaration as adapted. 

of English laws in a neighbouring 
province, establishing therein an 
arbitrary government, and enlarg- 
ing its boundaries, so as to render 
it, at once, an example and fit in- 
strument for introducing the same 
absolute rule into these colonies ; 

Not altered. 

Not altered. 

He has abdicated government 
here, by declaring us out of his 
protection, and waging war a- 
gainst us 

He has plundered our seas, ra- 
vaged our coasts, burnt our towns, 
and destroyed the lives of our 

He is, at this time, transporting 
large armies of foreign mercena- 
ries to complete the works of 
death, desolation and tyranny, al- 
ready begun with circumstances 
of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely 
paralleled in the most barbarous 
ages, and totally unworthy the 
head of a civilized nation. 

He has constrained our fellow 
citizens, taken captive on the 
high seas, to bear arms against 
their country, to become the ex- 
ecutioners of their friends and 
brethren, or to fall themselves by 
their hands. 

He has excited domestic insur- 
rections amongst us, and has en- 
deavoured to bring on the inhabit- 
ants of our frontiers, the merci- 
less Indian savages, whose known 
rule of warfare is an undistin- 
guished destruction, of all ageg, 
sexes, and conditions. 


Mr. Jefferson's Draught. 

Declaration as adopted. 

ers of their friends and breth- 
ren, or to fall themselves by 
their hands. 

has waged cruel war against 
human nature itself, violating 
it's most sacred rights of life 
and liberty in the persons of a 
distant people, who never of- 
fended him, captivating and car- 
rying them into slavery in 
another hemisphere, or to in- 
cur miserable death in their 
transportation thither, this pi- 
ratical warfare, the opprobrium 
of infidel powers, is the war- 
fare of a Christian king of 
Great Britain, determined to 
keep open a market where 
MEN' should be bought and 
sold, he has prostituted his ne- 
gative for suppressing every 
legislative attempt to prohibit 
or to restrain this execrable 
commerce, and that this as- 
semblage of horrors might 
want no fact of distinguished 
die, he is now exciting those 
Tery people to rise in arms 
among us, and to purchase that 
liberty of which he has depriv- 
ed them, by murdering the peo- 
ple upon whom he also obtrud- 
ed them : thus paying off for- 
mer crimes committed against 
the liberties of one people, with 
crimes which he urges them 
to commit against the live." of 

!h every stage of these oppres- 
sions, we have petitioned for re- 
dress in the most humble terms ; 
our repeated petitions have 
been answered only by repeat- 
ed injury, a prince whose char- 
acter is thus marked by every 
act which may define a tyrant, 
is unfit to be the ruler of a peo- 
ple who mean to be free, fu- 
ture ages will scarce believe 

Struck out. 

In every stage of these oppres- 
sions, we have petitioned for re- 
dress, in the most humble terms : 
our repeated petitions have been 
answered only by repeated inju- 
ry. A prince whose character is 
thus marked by every act which 
may define a tyrant, is unfit to be 
the ruler of a free people. 


r. Jefferson's Draught. 

Declaration as adopted. 

that the hardiness of one man ad- 
?entured, within the short com- 
pass of twelve years only, to build 
a foundation so broad and undis- 
guised, for tyranny over a people 
fostered and fixed in principles of 

Nor have we been wanting in 
attentions to our British brethren, 
we have warned them from time 
to time of attempts by their legis- 
lature to extend a jurisdiction 
over these our states, we have 
reminded them of the circumstan- 
ces of our emigration and settle- 
ment here, no one of which could 
warrant so strange a pretension : 
that these were effected at the 
expence of our own blood and 
treasure, unassisted by the wealth 
or the strength of Great Britain : 
that in constituting indeed our 
several forms of government, we 
had adopted one common king, 
thereby laying a foundation for 
perpetual league and amity with 
them : but that submission to 
their parliament was no part of 
our constitution, nor even in idea, 
if history may be credited : and 
we appealed to their native jus- 
tice and magnanimity, as well as 
to the tyes of our common kin- 
dred,to disavow these usurpations, 
which were likely to interrupt 
our connection and correspon- 
dence, they too have been deaf 
to the voice of justice and of con- 
sanguinity; and when occasions 
have been given them by the re- 
gular course of their laws, of re- 
moving from their councils the 
disturbers of our harmony, they 
have by their free election re- 
established them in power, at 
this very time too, they are per- 
mitting their chief magistrate to 
send over not only soldiers of our 
common blood, but Scotch and 
foreign mercenaries to invade and 

Nor have we been wanting in 
attentions to our British brethren. 
We have warned them, from time 
to time, of attempts by their legis- 
lature, to extend an unwarranta- 
ble jurisdiction over us. We 
have reminded them of the cir- 
cumstances of our emigration and 
settlement here. We have ap- 
pealed to their native justice and 
magnanimity, and we have con- 
jured them, by the ties of our 
common kindred, to disavow 
these usurpations, which would 
inevitably interrupt our connex- 
ions and correspondence. They 
too, have been deaf to the voice of 
justice and of consanguinity. We 
must, therefore, acquiesce in the 
necessity, which denounces our 
separation, and hold them, as we 
hold the rest of mankind, ene- 
mies in war, in peace friends. 


Mr. Jefferson's Draught. 

Declaration as adopted* 

destroy us. these facts have giv- 
en the last stab to agonizing af- 
fection ; and manly spirit bids us 
to renounce forever these unfeel- 
ing brethren, we must endea- 
vour to forget our former love 
for them, and to hold them as we 
hold the rest of mankind, ene- 
mies in war, in peace friends, 
we might have been a free and 
a great people together; but a 
communication of grandeur and 
of freedom, it seems is below 
their dignity, be it so, since 
they will have it. the road to 
happiness and to glory is open to 
us too ; we will climb it apart 
from them, and acquiesce in the 
necessity which denounces our 
eternal separation ! 

We therefore the Representa- 
tives of the United States of Ame- 
rica, in General Congress assem- 
bled, do, in the name, and by au- 
thority of the good people of 
these states, reject and renounce 
all allegiance and subjection to 
the kings of Great Britain, and all 
others who may hereafter claim 
by, through, or under them ; we 
utterly dissolve all political con- 
nection which may heretofore 
have subsisted between us and 
the parliament or people of Great 
Britain ; and finally we do assert 
these colonies to be free and in- 
dependent states, and that as free 
and independent states, they have 
full power to levy war, conclude 
peace, contract alliances, estab- 
lish commerce, and to do all other 
acts and things which independent 
states may of right do. and for 
the support of this declaration, 
we mutually pledge to each oth- 
er our lives, our fortunes, and 
our sacred honor. 

We, therefore, the Represen- 
tatives of the UNITED STATES of 
sembled, appealing to the su- 
preme Judge of the world for 
the rectitude of our intentions, 
do, in the name, and by the au- 
thority of the good people of 
these colonies, solemnly publish 
and declare, That these United 
Colonies are, and of right ought 
STATES ; that they are absolved 
from all allegiance to the British 
Crown, and that all political con- 
nexion between them and the 
state of Great Britain is, and 
ought to be, totally dissolved ; 
and that, as FREE and INDEPENDENT 
STATES, they have full power to 
levy war, conclude peace, con- 
tract alliances, establish com- 
merce, and to do all other acts 
and things which INDEPENDENT 
STATES may of right do. And, for 
the support of this declaration, 
with a firm reliance on the pro- 

mutually pledge to each other, 
our lives, our fortunes, and our 
sacred honour. 


Mr. Jefferson was manifestly displeased with the alterations made 
in Congress, in his Draught of the Declaration. In his letter of 
July 8, 1776, to Richard Henry Lee, he says, " I enclose y:u a copy 
ct of the Declaration of Independence as agreed to by the house, and 
" also as originally framed, you will judge whether it is the better 
" or worse for the critics." Far from being " worse," 1 think un- 
prejudiced readers will pronounce the alterations and amendments, 
made bv the u critics" in Congress, substantial improvements ; and 
that to those "' critics" Mr. Jefferson is indebted for much of the 
applause which has been bestowed upon him as the AUTHOR of the 


Fifteen millions of dollars were the stipulated price for Louisiana ; 
not an immoderate sum for so extensive a territory. But under the 
circumstances I have stated, it, will not be deemed a wild conjecture, 
that for the round sum of ten millions, the same object might have 
been accomplished.. 

Supplies of provisions and of other articles had been furnished by 
American merchants to the French Government, through the Agents 
of France and her Colonies, for which payments had not been made. 
Those merchants had also sustained great damages by a wanton or 
heedless embargo of their yessels in the ports of France. For these 
supplies and damages, our merchants were entitled to payments and 
indemnities. For these purposes, and for certain captures, three mil- 
lions and three quarters of a million of the fifteen millions of dollars 
were appropriated. The captures, or prizes, were those only which 
on the 30th of September, 1800, had not been definitively condem- 
ned. This is the date of the treaty negotiated by President Adams's 
ministers, Ellsworth, Davie and Murray. The claims for other pri- 
zes, to the estimated amount of twenty millions of dollars, prior to 
that date, were by the same treaty abandoned. 

In arranging the Louisiana business, three instruments in writing 
were employed. One was denominated a treaty, by which Bonaparte, 
then First Consul of France, ceded to the United States the Province 
of Louisiana. By the second, called a convention, the United States 
stipulated to create six per cent stock, to the amount of eleven mil- 
lions and two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, to be delivered to 
the French Government, or its agent. By the third instrument, also 
called a convention, the examination and ascertainment of the afore- 
mentioned debts and claims of American citizens, were provided for ; 
and an American Board was constituted for that purpose. As France 
had no interest therein, all the liquidated claims being to be paid 
out of the treasury of the United States, from the appropriated fund 
of three millions, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, the ex- 
amination and adjustment of the claims ought to have been made by 
American authority exclusively, without the contaminating interfer- 


ence of a French Bureau. But instead of this, express provision was 
made for such interference. The consequence was, the further plun- 
der of American merchants ; who, to obtain three fourths of their 
honest dues, were obliged respectively to sacrifice the other fourth in 
gratifications to the French Bureau. Such was the information 1 re- 
ceived in the midst of these transactions.* It might have been ex- 
pected, from the high reputation of the late Chancellor Robert R. 
Livingston, as a statesman and a lawyer, that he would have taken 
care to guard the American merchants against the mischief here stat- 
ed. He, undoubtedly, was the Principal in negotiating the Louisiana 
treaty and conventions. As the resident minister plenipotentiary of 
the United States at Paris, he could not have been unacquainted with 
the general character of the persons administering the French Gov- 
ernment, and their train of under officers, against whose impositions 
the clearest and strongest guards were necessary. 

* It is probable that divers honest claims were rejected by the French Bu- 
reau. A Boston merchant (an old friend of mine) informed me, that he had 
two claims one for five thousand dollars, and another for fifty thousand dol- 
lars, both equally well founded. The small claim was allowed, and the large 
one rejected. His agent had not been authorized to give the twenty five per 
cent, gratification to the French Bureau. The rejection of such claims made 
room for others unfounded, for which higher gratifications may have been 

E Pickering, Timothy 

310 A review of the correspon- 

A223 dence